Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire | WYPCC

Educational Op Tackles Modern Day Slavery

21st July 2020

Work to tackle modern slavery is continuing after the Force took part in a three week operation to educate and inform people about the terrible crime.

The trade in human misery is still happening in 21st century Britain with victims often forced into the sex industry and or committing crimes on behalf of their traffickers.

They are usually controlled by fear, violence and debt bondage. Victims might be fleeing conflict or looking for economic, social or educational opportunities in the UK and criminals will prey on their desire for a better life.

In reality, however, they are controlled and abused for profit by the criminals.

Despite the awful conditions victims are forced into, modern slavery and human trafficking are crimes that can happen in so-called ‘plain sight.’

By educating people about the crimes and the signs to spot them members of the public can be the ‘eyes and ears’ of the police.

Detective Chief Inspector Fiona Gaffney is in charge of the Force’s Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Team which leads West Yorkshire Police’s fight against the crime.

“Modern slavery and human trafficking are abhorrent crimes with vulnerable victims at their very centre.

“This Force was one of the first UK police forces to have a dedicated Human Trafficking Unit and work is ongoing all the time to help rescue victims and bring offenders to justice.

“We took part in a three-long intensification period (led by the National Crime Agency and the Gangmaster and Labour Abuse Authority) to complement this ongoing work and to help shine a light on what is happening.

“The three-week period was about warning and informing people about what could potentially be happening on their street or in their workplace.

“We visited a number of business to speak to employers about their responsibilities as well as employees to speak to them and identify any potential victims.

“Larger companies and establishments were also visited and leaflets given out to help educate people about these awful crimes. People there will now be able to pass on information to their friends and family, helping to spread the word.

“Only by working together with other agencies including the NCA, GLAA and Hope for Justice and can we provide a complete response which safeguards victims, brings criminals to justice and educates people about the crimes.”

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and National APCC Lead on Modern Slavery, Mark Burns-Williamson said:

“It was only a matter of days ago that the importance of raising awareness of the signs of modern day slavery was highlighted in the national Centre for Social Justice report ‘It Still Happens Here’ which I and the Office of PCC contributed to.

“West Yorkshire was one of the areas highlighted in this report, with particular reference to examples of best practice.

“It is these types activity and operations like ‘Aidant’ that have put us ahead of the curve nationally and why I am personally committed to tackling this terrible and often dehumanising crime. 

“It is therefore really good to see this sustained and proactive partnership between the National Crime Agency, Hope for Justice, West Yorkshire Police and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority work being coordinated that brings people’s attention to the scenarios where modern slavery manifests itself.

“The efforts to make companies and establishments aware of the indicators of modern slavery is also especially important, given that it is an area identified for improvement nationally and the importance of having ethical supply chains that eliminates exploitation.

“It is critical that we all continue to play a part in understanding the vile abuses of modern slavery and preventing it from occurring within our communities or workplaces in whatever guise it may take.”

To help people spot the potential signs of slavery the Force has issued advice, including what to do if you suspect something is wrong.

Possible signs to look out for:

  • Do the people living at a house appear isolated or secretive?
  • Do more people appear to be living in a house than would normally be expected?
  • Are the windows of a house covered from the inside?
  • Have you ever noticed anyone taking an excessive amount of bed mattresses into a house?
  • Do the people living in a house get collected/taken to work early in the morning and returned late at night?
  • Have you noticed anyone who appears to be living in outbuildings/barns/trailers or under any other roofs that make you suspicious?

For more advice and signs to look out for see https://www.westyorkshire.police.uk/advice/modern-slavery/modern-slavery-human-trafficking