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Marked police cars in fight against modern slavery

Marked police cars in fight against modern slavery

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 7:46am 18th October 2019.

Police cars with warnings about modern slavery are going out across Cornwall and Devon.

The vehicles are marked with the helpline number on anti-slavery day.

It comes amid a nationwide jump in suspected child victims.

Figures show the number of cases referred by local councils has risen 800% in the last five years.

Slavery Police Car 2
Specially marked police cars are going out across Cornwall and Devon in the fight against modern slavery. Photo: Devon and Cornwall Police

Devon and Cornwall Police are supporting Anti-Slavery Day on Friday the 18th October 2019.

As part the effort, three neighborhood police cars are prominently displaying modern slavery graphics and the phone number of the Modern Slavery Helpline (08000 121 700).  

The cars are now in use by local policing teams across the region.

The Helpline number provides members of the public and businesses with a way to report concerns about modern slavery and to seek free and confidential help and advice.

The liveried police cars will continue to be used on normal neighborhood, non -emergency, policing duties. 

However, in carrying the modern slavery branding they will also help raise awareness that these offences are likely to be happening across Devon and Cornwall, in both urban and rural areas.  

In promoting the Helpline telephone number, Devon & Cornwall Police also encourages the public to share their concerns where they see signs that people could be subject to exploitation by others.

Slavery Police Car 3
Devon and Cornwall Police say almost 100 cases of modern slavery have been reported to officers in the last year. Photo: Devon and Cornwall Police

"Across the UK we see vulnerable people frequently targeted and exploited by criminal gangs. British and foreign nationals fall victim to this, either on the promise of a better life, of a well-paid job or even just with the offer of food and somewhere to sleep for the night. And it is likely to be happening somewhere right now across Devon and Cornwall.

"Our experience shows that female victims of modern slavery can find themselves subject to sexual exploitation through organised prostitution or in pop-up brothels; men and women are exploited by being put to work for very low, or even for no pay in car washes, nail bars, on farms, in factories or in private households; and even children can be exploited through involvement in criminal activity like shoplifting, by tending cannabis grows or in drugs distribution as part of the county lines trade.

"These victims could be living or working in your community or on any street in our Force area. It's why we want to ask the public to be the eyes and ears of the effort to identify where this exploitation could be taking place.

"Using messages on police cars is a great way to encourage the public to take action by sharing any concerns they see.

"Where those concerns suggest evidence that modern slavery or human trafficking offences are happening, then those details will be passed to us by the Helpline for immediate investigation".

Superintendent Jez Capey

What are the signs of Modern Slavery?

Modern slavery and human trafficking could be happening in any community so it's important that the public know what to look out for and the signs that could indicate victims of this crime:

Can you see people...

  • Showing signs of physical or psychological abuse?  Do they appear injured, look malnourished, unkempt, anxious, or appear withdrawn? Do they avoid conversation and/or eye contact?
  • Working long hours, wearing unsuitable clothing or having the wrong equipment for the job?  Are they being dropped off or collected for work in groups on a regular basis either very early in the morning or late at night.
  • With few personal possessions and who always seem to wear the same clothes day in day out?
  • Who look like they are under the control or influence of others? Do they appear unfamiliar with the local community or where they work?
  • Living in dirty, cramped or overcrowded accommodation? Are they living and working at the same address? Are windows boarded or curtains always drawn?  Are there people who appear to be living in caravans, containers or sheds?

Are you aware of...

  • Frequent comings and goings with many unfamiliar people arriving and leaving a residential property at different times of the day or night? Or are there some people who never seem to leave the property or who only leave when escorted by someone else?
  • Businesses that charge exceptionally low prices, who only ever accept cash, where the surroundings, equipment and facilities don't seem right for the job or where there's only one person who ever accepts payment?

If members of the public see these potential signs of exploitation they can call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 117 200 to report their concerns. 

Alternative way to report similar concerns are to:

  • Call Devon & Cornwall Police non-emergency enquiries on: 101
  • Call the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority on: 0800 432 0804
  • Call Crimestoppers on: 0800 555 111
  • Or call the Salvation Army on: 0300 303 81851

However, where the public believe that a person may be at risk of immediate harm, they should always call the police directly by dialing 999.

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