Clamping down on modern slavery

The word slavery conjures up images of emaciated men and women, shackled by the ankle and toiling away in open fields in searing heat in times long gone by.

But, it may shock you to know, slavery is still widely prevalent in our society today and could be happening right under your nose, in your street or neighbourhood.

Thames Valley Police are today launching a partnership campaign to help raise awareness of modern slavery. The campaign, supported by Buckinghamshire County Council and the district councils, aims to help people spot the signs that something could be wrong and to make them aware of how to report their suspicions.

Modern slavery can take on many forms from prostitution to being forced to carry out manual tasks such as domestic work or labouring for little or no money. Many victims are often trafficked and are forced to live in fear in squalid conditions under the constant threat of violence and intimidation.

Knowing how to spot the signs is vital to helping catch the perpetrators and clamp down on modern slavery. Signs to look out for include:

  • Physical appearance – victims may look scruffy or malnourished, always wearing the same clothes which may not be suitable for the type of work they are doing.
  • Isolation – victims may often be accompanied and not allowed out on their own and often won’t have many personal possessions.
  • Reluctance to seek help – victims may avoid eye contact and appear frightened or hesitant to talk to strangers. Often they are scared and don’t know who to trust. They may be scared to speak out due to fear of deportation or fear of violence to them or their family.

Despite its increasing existence, the number of reported cases is low. In the last quarter of 2014 only 8 cases were reported in the Thames Valley region but estimates reveal there are likely to be closer to 100 cases happening in Buckinghamshire alone.

The Government has set up a national helpline for victims or anyone who wishes to report a suspected case. The number is free and all calls are treated confidentially: 0800 0121 700. If you suspect someone is in immediate danger call 999.

Councillor Martin Phillip, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement and Public Health said: “This type of inhuman behaviour against such vulnerable people is utterly despicable and we must all to what we can to help drive it out.

“It is worrying that so many suspected cases of modern slavery are happening right here in Buckinghamshire. As a County Council we will continue to work closely with our colleagues in the police and other partners to ensure that the criminals who carry out these hateful and appalling crimes are brought to justice.

“As caring residents of Buckinghamshire we don’t want to turn our backs on the signs that something is wrong. I would urgeeveryone to make themselves aware of the signs and to report anything that they see as suspicious immediately.”

More information on modern slavery can be found on the Government website: