17/09/2019

Cleveland Officers Support Modern Slavery Week

Cleveland Police continues to support the national Modern Slavery campaign to fight against people being sexually exploited.

In Cleveland alone, 16 people have been victim to modern slavery since the beginning of the year which has resulted in four arrests (all have been released under investigation).

The campaign will runs Monday 16th to Friday 20th September to raise awareness of modern slavery and to promote the help offered to victims by the Force and partner agencies.

Speaking of the campaign, T/Detective Inspector Steve Bell said: “There are many forms of exploitation into which people can be trafficked and held in slavery which includes sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, domestic servitude, county lines, forced criminality & agriculture and more.

“Modern slavery is often a hidden crime and victims often do not want to come forward because of fear of violence or repercussions which makes tracing victims, witnesses and offenders difficult.

“We are supporting the national campaign again in our area and will be aiming some of the campaign towards foreign nationals living in our patch who could be living in a situation which they are struggling to get out of

“As a Force, we will do everything we can to help victims of modern slavery, and I want to make it clear that if you are a victim, you have rights, and we can help you.

“We work in partnership with the Modern Slavery Helpline and other agencies to provide all the emotional, medical and practical support which victims need, and this includes accommodation, medical assistance, legal advice and counselling.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger established Cleveland Anti-Slavery Network in April 2018 to bring together agencies to tackle modern slavery and trafficking in the area.

Mr Coppinger said: “Modern Slavery strips a victim of all sense of autonomy, destroys their confidence and supresses their rights as a human being. The impact of living as a victim of modern slavery and trafficking can have a long-lasting impact that can be difficult to recover from.

“Through our local Anti-Slavery Network, we’re working closely with other agencies to develop pathways for victims, to ensure they engage with emergency support services as soon as they are released from the grips of their captors.

“The Network will continue to raise awareness of the common signs of modern slavery and we’re committed to making a particular effort with communities who are most at-risk of falling victims to this terrible offence."

An app, which is the first of its kind, has now been created to disrupt, combat and prevent the global issues of human trafficking, modern slavery and exploitation and can be found here: https://www.stopthetraffik.org/stopapp/

If you think someone may be a victim of modern slavery call the 24/7 Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700. In an emergency, Cleveland Police can be contacted on 999 or call 101 if it is non-urgent. Alternatively, to report a crime anonymously call independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.