Slavery in Sussex is ‘closer than you think’ and police have launched a new campaign to combat the issue.
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, so police are asking our communities in Sussex to take a closer look. They say modern slavery is closer than you think.
New campaign launched to fight slavery in our communities
The campaign starts today and will run for three weeks on the Sussex Police Facebook and Twitter accounts.
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.”
What are the signs of modern slavery?
Det Sup Roiley said 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.
He added: “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.”
An under-reported crime happening in Sussex
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.”
How can you help?
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.
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).
You can also contact the national modern slavery helpline on 08000 121 700 or the Salvation Army modern slavery helpline on 0300 303 8151, or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Police say you can also support the campaign by following Sussex Police Twitter and Facebook accounts and sharing the posts.
You can find more information on the Sussex Police modern slavery advice webpages.