9th May, 2021

New campaign to help spot signs of slavery

Evesham Editorial 3rd May, 2021

A LOCAL police campaign is helping people in Worcestershire spot the signs of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Operation Aidant is also encouraging residents to report those heinous crimes if they suspect something is wrong.

The aim of the operation is to detect people being smuggled into the country, protect vulnerable workers, engage with businesses and gather intelligence.

Inspector Dave King of West Mercia Police, said: “There are many men, women and children who are suffering at the hands of criminal exploitation.

“These victims are forced into situations where they work for next to no pay and in some cases have key documents taken from them, such as driving licences and passports. They are effectively sold a dream and then held to ransom.

“The nature of these crimes means victims are hidden and controlled, so it can be hard to spot or recognise.

“Language can be an issue because people don’t always speak up or seek the help they need.”

Officers are urging people to pay attention to physical appearances, as victims may show signs of abuse or appear withdrawn.

Victims may also be living in overcrowded accommodation, have few possessions and always wear the same clothes day in day out.

Other signs include seeing someone dropped off for ‘work’ on a regular basis, either early in the morning or late at night.

Another sign is that they rarely travel on their own and are seemingly under the influence of others.

“Quite often vulnerable and abused people are transported to workplaces via the M42 and M5, which is why we have been situated at Hopwood services,” added Inspector King.

If you or someone you know is being exploited, call West Mercia Police on 101 or 999.

Alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

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