28 July 2016
As World Day against Trafficking in Persons takes place on Saturday 30 July 2016, police remind Dorset residents to look out for the signs.
Human trafficking is a hidden crime, which takes place globally and affects people within the UK, including Dorset, today.
A form of modern slavery, human trafficking is the illegal movement of people, typically for the purposes of forced labour or sexual exploitation. Men, women and children are forced into a situation through the use (or threat) of violence, deception or coercion. Victims may enter the UK legally, on forged documentation or secretly under forced hiding, or they may even be a UK citizen living in the UK who is then trafficked within the country. Human trafficking should not be confused with people smuggling, where upon arrival the smuggled person is free.
Detective Inspector Fiona Gaffney said: “Men, women and children are trafficked and forced into slavery across the UK for a variety of purposes including; sexual exploitation, forced labour, debt bondage, domestic servitude and other criminal activities.
“Domestic servitude is where someone is forced to work in private households, usually to conduct domestic chores and childcare, while debt bondage is when labour is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan, but the enslaver usually makes it an impossibility to repay the loan. Common areas where we look out for labour exploitation are in car washes, nail and beauty bars, and in industries such as agriculture, construction and building, hospitality, food processing and manufacturing.
“We know that human trafficking and modern slavery can happen anywhere in the country and we are working to stamp it out in Dorset. With partners, our officers target various locations across the county to ensure individuals are not being trafficked and/or forced into work.”
Members of the public are encouraged to think, spot the signs and speak out against the abuse and exploitation of anyone in our community.
The signs of human trafficking and modern slavery include:
• Physical Appearance: Victims may show signs of physical or psychological abuse, look malnourished or unkempt, or appear withdrawn.
• Isolation: Victims may rarely be allowed to travel on their own, seem under the control/influence of others, rarely interact or appear unfamiliar with their neighbourhood or where they work.
• Poor Living Conditions: Victims may be living in dirty, cramped or overcrowded accommodation, and/or living and working at the same address.
• Few or No Personal Effects: Victims may have no identification documents, have few personal possessions and always wear the same clothes day in day out. What clothes they do wear may not be suitable for their work.
• Restricted Freedom of Movement: Victims have little opportunity to move freely and may have had their travel documents retained, e.g. passports.
• Unusual Travel Times: They may be dropped off/collected for work on a regular basis, either very early or late at night.
• Reluctance to Seek Help: Victims may avoid eye contact, appear frightened or hesitant to talk to strangers and fear law enforcers for many reasons, such as not knowing who trust or where to get help, fear of deportation, fear of violence to them or their family.
Inspector Gaffney continues: “There is no ‘typical’ victim of human trafficking and modern slavery. Victims can be men, women and children of all ages, ethnicities, nationalities and backgrounds. It can however be more prevalent amongst the most vulnerable members of society, and within minority or socially excluded groups.
“Whilst our officers investigate these offences and support victims, these crimes are known to be very well hidden, so we really need the general public of Dorset to be vigilant to any signs of exploitation.”
“If you are being trafficked or enslaved, or you have any suspicions or concerns that someone is, please do not hesitate to report it to the police online by visiting www.dorset.police.uk and following the ‘Do it online’ function, or if you believe someone is in immediate danger call 999.”
Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill said: “Dorset may be one of the safest places to live in the country but it is not excluded from national issues such as human trafficking and modern slavery. This evil crime targets the vulnerable, the very group that our society needs to protect.
“These crimes are often hidden and un-reported so I would like to remind everyone that if you believe someone is being exploited or abused, do please report it. If you feel you are being trafficked or enslaved, remember there is always help available and police officers take any reports seriously.”
For more information and support on issues related to human trafficking and modern slavery, visit the Dorset Police website: https://www.dorset.police.uk/help-advice-crime-prevention/personal-safety-help-advice/human-trafficking-modern-slavery/
• Modern Slavery Helpline: 0800 0121 700 (24hrs and anonymous), www.modernslavery.co.uk
• Unseen: www.unseenuk.org
• Anti-Slavery International: www.antislavery.org/english
Dorset Police: For non-urgent matters, or to make an enquiry, please go to www.dorset.police.uk and follow the ‘Do it online’ function. Here you can pass all the details of your concerns to us via the online enquiry form. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 101.
In an emergency, always call 999.
Alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
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