Could you spot the signs of modern slavery?

Supt Barry Byford at Suffolk Police Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Supt Barry Byford at Suffolk Police Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Suffolk police are supporting Anti-Slavery day today – but do you know what the signs are that somebody is being exploited?

The force says it is backing the day to raise awareness and encourage reporting of human trafficking and exploitation.

Superintendent Barry Byford urged the public to come forward if they suspect a vulnerable person is being abused in this way.

He said: “The perpetrators of human trafficking are criminals who make money by preying on vulnerable people.

“Often the victims are too frightened to come forward. We need to open people’s eyes to the slavery all around them and encourage victims to speak out.”

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How serious is the problem in Suffolk?

Victims are trafficked all over the world, including to and within the UK. Modern slavery happens in urban and rural areas, including Suffolk. There is no typical victim and some victims may not understand that they have been exploited.

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Specialist officers in Suffolk work to free people who are being forced to work illegally against their will. There have been 17 investigations into crimes relating to modern slavery in Suffolk this year.

Victims could be forced into employment in the agriculture and construction industries, domestic service and hospitality, car washes, nail bars and sexual exploitation, as well as crime such as pick-pocketing, burglaries and the illegal drug industry.

What to look out for:

Victims may:

• Look unkempt and malnourished

• Be withdrawn and anxious

• Live in dirty, overcrowded accommodation

• Have no access to their passport or identity documents

• Appear scared and avoid eye contact

• Be under the control and influence of others

• Show signs of abuse and/or have health issues

What to do if you are aware of a case

If you suspect someone is being forced to work illegally, do not confront the people you believe are responsible as you may risk putting them and yourself in danger.

If you think someone is at risk:

• Call 999 if there is immediate danger

• Contact the Police on 101

• Contact the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 1700

• Contact the Salvation Army referral helpline on 0300 303 8151

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