Stand up to slavery

October 18 marks Anti-Slavery Day and Chiltern and South Bucks District Councils are supporting the campaign by offering training to staff highlighting the warning signs that may alert us to potential victims.

Modern day slavery is more prevalent, and closer to our everyday lives, than many of us realise. It can take on many forms - from prostitution to being forced to carry out manual tasks such as domestic work or labouring for little or no money. It is a hidden crime and often difficult to spot, however there are signs that we can all look out for.

Earlier this month Thames Valley Police reported that it records three modern slavery crimes every week across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. In Bucks, there have been 29 reported cases of people being sexually exploited, trafficked, ordered to smuggle drugs or forced into slavery over the past two years. The Home Office estimates that there are between 10,000-13,000 victims of Modern Slavery in the UK.

Local Authorities are among agencies identified within the Modern Slavery Act (2015) as First Responders, along with the Police, the Salvation Army, UK Visas and Immigration. As First Responders, we have a duty to notify the Home Office about any potential victims.

Public sector staff are well placed to see many of the signs during their daily work, which makes them a vital link in uncovering modern day slavery. Effective reporting is vital to help the police clamp down on criminals who are making immense profits from controlling and exploiting others. Knowing the signs to look out for means that everyone can play their part in reporting anything they suspect may constitute Modern Day Slavery.

There is no typical victim of modern slavery. Some victims don't understand they're being exploited and many don't speak English. Typical signs of it include:

  • Poor physical appearance; isolation; poor living conditions; few or no belongings; restricted freedom of movement; unusual travel times; reluctance to seek help; grooming

For 24/7 information and support contact the Modern Slavery Helpline: 0800 0121 700.

Information from the community, can play a vital role in tackling modern slavery, no matter how small or insignificant. If you see something suspicious, call police on 101.

You can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

For further information or to find out how to spot the signs please visit the Community Safety pages.