24th August 2019

Police launch new campaign asking the public to #TellUsWhatYouSee

Police are launching a new campaign that aims to increase the amount of intelligence they receive on Modern Day Slavery and raise awareness of this form of exploitative crime.

The campaign, called #TellUsWhatYouSee, aims to educate the public on the signs and indicators of various forms of modern day slavery, as well as details of how and where to report this information, in order to help tackle this crime.

Police saw a 78% increase in intelligence reporting between 2016 and 2017, receiving a total of 245 pieces of intelligence. They anticipate this figure to be rise next year, having received a total of 435pieces of intelligence so far this year.

While the increase is positive and in part down to increased media attention on modern day slavery in nail bars and car washes, there are still many forms of lesser-known modern slavery going on, in neighbourhoods and local communities across the force area.

Labour exploitation, which is linked with industries such as car washes, nail bars and building sites, is the most common form of intelligence police have received information on, followed closely by sexual exploitation, which covers brothels and sex workers. Reports of criminal exploitation and domestic servitude are minimal and are lesser known to the public as modern slavery.

Police know domestic servitude is happening across the UK but there is very little information on where due to how invisible this form of modern slavery can be. The force area has yet to receive any intelligence this year on this form of modern slavery. Police are keen to hear from anyone who suspect’s domestic servitude is happening in their neighbourhood; some of the signs to look out for include someone responsible for children 24 hours a day, an individual who is never allowed to leave the home without someone, and is responsible for the cleaning or day-to-day housework.

Chief Inspector Mark Edgington, force lead on modern day slavery for Avon & Somerset Police, said: “In the past two years we’ve seen a significant increase in the reporting of illegal workers at car washes and nail bars.

“However there are still many other forms of modern slavery where vulnerable people are being taken advantage of. We need the public to be our eyes and ears, telling us what they’re seeing and sending that information in, either direct to police or through the modern slavery helpline  08000 121 700.

There were 16 active on-going investigations linked to potential modern slavery within our force as of 15 October and these investigations rely heavily on information received from the public, also known as Intelligence.

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said:  “Modern Slavery is happening right now, and tackling it falls under the number one policing priority of protecting the most vulnerable from harm.

“Modern Slavery often occurs in plain sight and in everyday situations, so I urge everyone to use their voice to speak up for those who can’t. Be vigilant, know how to spot the signs and most importantly, report your suspicion if you believe someone’s at risk.”

Put simply, this is information that can arrive in a number of ways to the police and plays a crucial role in the disruption and prosecution of modern day slavery. One piece of Intel could be the missing piece an investigator needs to carry out a safeguarding visit or issue a warrant for an arrest. That’s why it’s vital that the public tell them what they see and report any activity they suspect could be linked to modern day slavery.

Since 2017, the police have made 145 referrals through the National Referral Mechanism, which is a framework for identifying victims of human trafficking or modern slavery and ensures they receive the appropriate support. In 2016 they referred 29 people, so they’ve seen almost a 196% increase in referrals, but there is much more needing to be done to identifying potential victims.

The NRM is also the mechanism through which the Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Unit (MSHTU) collects data about victims. This information contributes to building a clearer picture about the scope of human trafficking and modern slavery in the UK.