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Anti-Slavery Day: new awareness campaign launched in Hertfordshire

18th October 2017

The public in Hertfordshire are being asked to help identify victims of modern slavery, including people who’ve been forced into labour, or who might be working in poor conditions against their will.

Since 2009, 119 potential victims have been identified in Hertfordshire. However not all of them had offences committed against them within the county.

The number has dramatically increased in recent years with 47 identified so far this year. This compares to 10 in 2015 and 26 in 2016.

The majority of victims were women (58), followed by men (32), then boys (17) and girls (12). There have been three convictions for human trafficking and modern slavery offences in the county.

Some 29 people were identified as at risk of exploitation but were not willing to engage with investigations. However many have been removed from harm as a result of action taken by authorities.  

Earlier this year Hertfordshire Constabulary launched Operation Tropic, a dedicated police unit that coordinates the response to modern slavery in Hertfordshire. The result is greater and more coordinated support to victims in the county.

A public awareness campaign has been launched today (Wednesday, October 18) by the Hertfordshire Modern Slavery Partnership* to mark Anti-Slavery Day and raise awareness of human trafficking and modern slavery in Hertfordshire.

Modern slavery can take many forms, including the trafficking of people, forced labour and servitude. It is a global problem that can affect anyone, regardless of their age, gender and ethnicity.

The aim of the Anti-Slavery campaign is to alert local authorities, companies, charities and individuals to the signs of modern slavery and encourage them to report concerns they might have.

Detective Superintendent Dave Wheatley said:  “Our new modern slavery partnership needs one more key partner on board and that is the people of Hertfordshire.

“Trafficking and slavery victims can be forced to work for little or no money or their lives are controlled by others. However they may still be living or working in plain sight of the public, so we are appealing to people to look out for the signs and to report any concerns they have. Through the public’s help we can stamp out these abusive and inhumane crimes.”

Police and Crime Commissioner, David Lloyd, who has pledged his support to the campaign said: “Tackling modern slavery requires a co-ordinated and united approach.

“I commend Hertfordshire Constabulary for the work they have carried out through Operation Tropic – the dedicated police unit that co-ordinates the response to modern slavery in Hertfordshire. I am hopeful that this multiagency response will bring key offenders to justice and ensure a better outcome for victims.”

Meenal Sachdev, Director of Shiva Foundation, said: “We can all work to end this horrific crime.

“The more people know, the better equipped they are to respond and help victims of modern slavery get the protection they need. This campaign is an important part in bringing the Hertfordshire community together in this fight."

The campaign will promote public awareness through posters, leaflets and social media with specific materials aimed at taxi drivers, and outdoor and mobile advertising across the next four weeks.

The public can report any concerns they have to the police via 101 or the national helpline 08000 121 700. Learn more at www.modernslaveryhelpline.org  www.modernslaveryhelpline.org/learn-more/general/spot-the-signs and Modern Slavery