A new campaign has been launched to raise awareness of the signs of modern slavery in Sussex.
The campaign starts on Monday 21 January and will run for three weeks on the Sussex Police Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Modern Slavery is a crime hidden in plain sight involving the criminal exploitation of people who are often forced to work in horrendous conditions, live in cramped and often overcrowded accommodation and are at risk of violence and sexual exploitation.
Signs of modern slavery aren’t easy to spot and we’re asking our communities in Sussex to take a closer look, it’s closer than you think.
Detective Superintendent Jeff Riley who leads Sussex Police’s fight against modern slavery said: “Victims of modern slavery cannot be defined by any one particular behaviour, circumstance, industry or characteristic but a combination of these could indicate that someone is a victim.
Some of the signs to be aware of include people living in overcrowded or cramped conditions; being picked up for work very early in the morning and being dropped off late in the evening. Sometimes people are isolated from the community they live or work in, barely speaking or not joining in conversation, they may avoid eye contact and not interact with people around them.
There is no one stereotype to define victims of this crime, they can be from the UK or abroad, men, women or children, all coerced into a situation against their will.
Typically victims are being forced to work, are owned or controlled by their employer, can be physically or psychologically constrained and can be subjected to physical and mental abuse. The perpetrators control their victims, trading in human misery for financial gain.
Modern Slavery is a priority for Sussex Police and it is a crime that is seen as hidden within communities, which is the undetected and underreported physical, emotional and psychological abuse of a person or people.”
Police are asking people within our communities to be aware of the symptoms and behaviours attributed to victims of modern slavery as described and to report something thought to be suspicious.
Modern slavery is a hidden crime and by raising awareness we are hoping to uncover this crime in our communities to catch the perpetrators and prevent further harm to vulnerable victims.
Richard Lancashire is the force’s Modern Slavery Manager. His post is funded by Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne, and he is responsible for coordinating the continuing training of our officers and staff and raising awareness with partners and the public of modern slavery. He will be delivering talks at two church conferences in mid-January to engage with communities about the impact of modern slavery.
Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “Modern slavery is happening in Sussex and is currently an under-reported crime. This campaign is calling on the public to be more aware of things happening in their peripheral vision, where too often the signs of modern slavery are present but going unrecognised and opportunities to report are missed.
Help keep our community safe by being vigilant and reporting any concerns you may have either anonymously via Crimestoppers or directly to Sussex Police.”
Police investigate reports of modern slavery and equally importantly help to identify and safeguard vulnerable people, whether from with the UK or overseas, who are at risk of becoming victims to it.
In the six months to the end of September 2018, Sussex Police had identified more 80 cases of potential victims of modern slavery, involving people originating from both the UK and overseas. Over the same period more than 30 arrests had been made on suspicion of offences potentially linked to modern slavery.
If you think you have information that might identify or locate a potential victim or suspect for modern slavery, or someone you know is a victim of modern slavery, or even a location where you think exploitation might be happening, please report it online or call us on 101 (always call 999 in an emergency).
Support the campaign by following Sussex Police Twitter and Facebook accounts and sharing the posts.
You can find more information on our Modern Slavery advice webpages.