Bedfordshire Police is supporting Anti-Slavery Day tomorrow as they continue to tackle human trafficking.
National Anti-Slavery Day was created in 2010 to raise awareness of modern slavery and encourage the government, local authorities, companies and public sector bodies to address the scope and scale of issues such as forced labour, child trafficking, domestic servitude and trafficking for sexual exploitation.
Beds Police has dealt with some very recent cases of slavery, including a Romanian man who had arrived at Luton Airport, having left a location outside Bedfordshire where he was being used for labour and sexual exploitation.
Det Chief Insp Cestaro who leads Beds Police on human trafficking said: “This is very much a hidden crime, and one that is hard to gauge in terms of its size.
“People who have been subject to these forms of abuse often don’t know where to turn for help – they may not speak English, may be in the country illegally or even being held against their will and all of those things make them hard to reach.
“We have to work really hard to spot those signs and to that end we are using ASD to highlight the new training planned for all of our detective supervisors on the subject, including training from the UK Human Trafficking Centre and other organisations. All other public facing staff will receive on-line training about the signs to look out for and how to help those people who might be being exploited in this cruel way.”
Beds Police helped a Romanian woman claiming to have been lured to the UK with the promise of restaurant work who was then held for prostitution in Luton. She was found in London and then housed in the North of England.
Beds Police also dealt with a 14-year-old boy who was being exploited for labour by operators of a fun fair for a week.
In Leighton Buzzard, the force undertook Operation Netwing, a large scale police investigation into men who were forced into servitude.
Bedfordshire Against Modern Slavery group, provides a forum for a number of groups including the Kings House Project, Prebend Street Day Centre and the Salvation Army who work with very vulnerable people and may often spot signs of such abuse and can provide practical help for survivors of it.
Kristy Adams, of Bedfordshire Against Modern Day Slavery, said: “My involvement stems from being inspired by a talk in Parliament where a charity worker spoke of how his daughter described his job as, ‘rescuing princesses.’ I realised there was an awful lot of potential for public bodies, voluntary organisations and the community to work together to help identify cases of Human Trafficking and free those caught up in this evil crime.”
During the run up to ASD, officers have also been operating an anti-money laundering operation at London Luton Airport, aimed at criminals leaving the country with large amounts of cash.
If you have information or concerns about someone who may be involved, or being forced into work or exploitation against their will, you can contact police direct on 101. Alternatively Crimestoppers the independent charity are running a human trafficking campaign and information can be given to them anonymously via their free phone number 0800 555111.