Posted: Wed 26th Oct 2016

North West Police Forces In Largest Ever Regional Modern Slavery Week Of Action /
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Oct 26th, 2016

Police forces in the North West and Wales came together last week as part of the largest modern slavery and human trafficking week of action the region has ever seen. North Wales Police were part of a multi-agency pro-active campaign to rescue vulnerable people, target offenders, educate the public and send a clear message to traffickers that they are not welcome in the region. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Throughout the week (17 – 21 October) police hosted a series of events to raise awareness and talk about how they can spot the signs of Modern Day Slavery. This included Landlord Forums and visits to local hotels as well as conducting many safeguarding visits to suspected brothels and other locations. Four victims of ‘slavery’ were rescued during the week and they are currently being safeguarded by specialist staff and partners within the British Red Cross and BAWSO whilst a thorough investigation is undertaken. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Detective Inspector Gary Kelly North Wales Police lead on Modern Slavery said ‘Last week’s action was aimed at identifying potential victims of Modern Day Slavery including Sexual Exploitation. Intelligence suggests potential exploitation at a variety of locations such as Food Processing Plants, Nail Bars, Convenience Stores, Car Washes and Fast Food Outlets. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Together with colleagues from Border Force and the voluntary sector we made over one hundred interventions during the week. Most were informal ‘soft visits’ to simply safeguard potential victims or educate owners and staff but where individuals were perceived to be at risk or criminality was suspected our action was more aggressive and ‘enforced’ resulting in the rescue of four persons who we believe to have been exploited. Forced labour is very often over-looked in terms of modern slavery but research and experience tells us it is one of the most prevalent aspects of slavery. Two of those rescued are alleging labour exploitation. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“It can often take years for victims to either disclose their abuse or break away from their abusers but the local community can help. Whilst frontline officers have been trained to identify the warning signs of those most vulnerable we need our communities to be our eyes and ears. We cannot rely upon victims to come forward and report abuse, because many will be unaware of their abuse and the crime remains hidden in plain sight. There is a social responsibility upon us all to do all we can to protect vulnerable people. No matter who the offenders are, whether they are working alone or with others and regardless of the community to which they belong, we are resolute in our determination to identify them and bring them to justice.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones added “The Modern Slavery Week of Action is an important step to increase public awareness of one of the most damaging and harmful crime types dealt with in policing today. We are working hard together with our partners to expose and tackle this crime. Ultimately we want to protect victims and bring offenders to justice. We need the communities of North Wales to support us in our work to tackle modern slavery. Know the signs to look out for and always contact the police or Crimestoppers if you have concerns where you are.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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