Events to raise awareness of modern slavery and human trafficking are kicking off across Hertsmere next week.
They will help members of the public to spot signs of someone potentially becoming a victim of this type of serious and organised crime, which is also increasingly being seen as a major human rights issue.
Officers from Hertsmere Community Safety Partnership (Hertsmere CSP) and Hertfordshire Constabulary’s anti-trafficking team will be hitting the streets in Borehamwood, Potters Bar, Bushey and Radlett to hand out information and answer questions. The events come after our members pledged to help end modern slavery and human trafficking.
Around 13,000 people are thought to be victims of modern slavery and trafficking in the UK, however exact figures are not known because many crimes remain undetected. So far in 2017, some 18 UK-related slavery or trafficking offences have been recorded in Hertfordshire, based on data collected through the national referral mechanism. This compares to just seven during the same period in 2016.”
Meenal Sachdev is founder of Shiva Foundation, an organisation dedicated to tackling the issue. She is also a borough councillor here in Hertsmere. Meenal said: “People lead busy lives and it’s often all too easy to use services and buy products without thinking about where they have come from and who is providing them.
“Raising awareness is key because once you're aware of the issue, you can take action. There are experts you can report to if you see something that you feel is wrong. If you come across someone who seems vulnerable or frightened - they may be doing your nails, washing your car, or it may be someone you come across in your daily life - let someone know."
Officers will be available to speak to members of the public from 11am until 2pm outside Caffe Nero in Potters Bar on Thursday 17 August; in Bushey High Street on Friday 18 August; outside Tesco Extra in Borehamwood on Tuesday 22 August and in Radlett High Street on Wednesday 23 August.
You can report a suspected case through the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 or by calling the non-emergency police number 101. In an emergency you should always call 999.
Detective Sergeant Duncan Montague, from Hertfordshire Constabulary's Operation Tropic, added: “Many people would assume that slavery and trafficking are issues that occur in other parts of the world and not Hertfordshire. However these are serious crimes that can and do occur here. Although they are relatively rare, we know many are never reported so it is vital that people are aware of the signs and report any concerns they have.”
Among the signs that victims may show are looking malnourished, unkempt or appearing withdrawn; they may appear frightened, particularly of authorities, or they may perceive themselves to be in debt to somebody. They might not have access to their legal documents, such as their passport, identification and bank account details and may have old or serious untreated injuries. They may also be unable to answer questions directed at them or speak for themselves as they are accompanied by somebody who speaks for them.
More information about this issue and how to report suspected cases
Posted on Monday 7th August 2017