Public encouraged to keep ‘spotting the signs’ as reports of modern slavery increase
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As incidents of modern slavery being reported to Leicestershire Police increase, the force continues to encourage the public to report their concerns.
Latest statistics show the number of occurrences investigated by the force is steadily increasing year on year - in 2015 the force recorded a total of 12 incidents, five years later that figure has risen to 142 reports in the first six months of 2020.
Modern slavery is defined as exploitive behaviour – placing one person in control of another. It can include sexual exploitation, forced labour and domestic servitude.
Detective Inspector Jenni Heggs, who oversees the force’s Modern Slavery Team, said: “Modern slavery happens worldwide and right now, men, women and children are being exploited by people who deliberately target the vulnerable.
“The fact that reports of modern slavery have risen in our force area shows there is increased awareness within our communities and we continue to encourage the public to be our eyes and ears and report their concerns.
“We are, of course, ultimately working to stop modern slavery from happening at all and the only way we are going to do this is by working with our communities to raise awareness and ensure incidents are reported to us.
“The figures show this increased reporting is happening and we now must ensure we all continue this working together to ‘spot the signs’ of modern slavery so that we can continue to take action where it is needed. We owe it to each other to know the signs, spot the signs and report the signs.
The force has been carrying out this work to raise awareness alongside partner agencies and with national Anti-Slavery Day taking place on Sunday 18 October, we are continuing to remind people living in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland how to spot the signs of modern slavery and to report what you know.
Over the course of five days (12-16 October) different messages will be posted on Facebook and Twitter with the tag line #KnowTheSigns – easy to understand infographics will depict the five key signs of modern slavery.
The signs are:
- Long hours
- Lack of personal possessions
The posts will also include information signposting victims, or members of the public, to a number of organisations that can help, by offering advice, information, or support to anyone who might be a victim, who knows someone who is a victim, or members of the public who are concerned with something they might have seen or heard.
DI Heggs added: “Modern slavery is a hidden crime that exists in everyday society and is complex and challenging to investigate.
“It can be that victims don’t see themselves as such. They may come from all walks of life, be of any age, race, gender or nationality and are often unwilling to come forward and report what is happening to them to either the police or public protection agencies. There might be social or cultural barriers meaning men and women are reluctant to identify themselves as victims and some may fear reprisals from their abusers.
“The force takes all reports of modern slavery seriously and will investigate thoroughly bringing those responsible to justice.”
If you believe that you or someone you know is a victim of modern slavery, or you think you have spotted the signs, there are a number of ways you can report it.
You can contact Leicestershire Police in an emergency by dialling 999. In a non-emergency situation, call 101. You can also report online at https://www.leics.police.uk/ro/report/ocr-bridge/report-crime/
Alternatively, the Modern Slavery Helpline is available 24hrs a day, on 0800 0121 700 or you can report online at https://www.modernslaveryhelpline.org/report
Victims can also contact:
More information on modern slavery can be found by visiting the following webpage:
Leicestershire Police: https://www.leics.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/ms/modern-slavery/