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Modern Slavery

South Wales Police is committed to protecting vulnerable people and this includes those who have been the victim of, or have the potential to be a victim of, modern slavery.

Slavery in Wales is on the rise. In 2016, there were 123 referrals of potential victims of modern slavery.

What is modern slavery?

Modern slavery is the second most profitable crime in the world, second only to drugs.  It includes slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking.

Victims of this crime may be:

  • Forced to work, often in unpleasant conditions, for little or no pay
  • Controlled by an ‘employer’, who uses abuse, or threats of abuse
  • Treated as an object or possession, bought and sold like property
  • Restricted in what they can do, where they can go, who they can talk to and such

Most victims are brought into the country by human traffickers in order to be exploited.  But modern slavery is not limited to overseas trafficking – a number of British citizens are also enslaved and moved around the country.

This video (7 minutes) explains the issues of modern slavery and human trafficking:

Modern Day Slavery is often referred to as a ‘hidden crime’.  Victims often do not perceive themselves as being victims, or may be unwilling to seek help due to:

  • Fear of retribution/reprisals from their traffickers
  • Fear and suspicion of the authorities, and a lack of awareness that these people are in a position to help
  • Fear of Juju or witchcraft rituals
  • Fear that their traffickers will accuse them of being complicit in their trafficked situation
  • Toleration of their situation, as it is more favourable than their home circumstances
  • Being in a relationship with their traffickers
  • Stockholm syndrome, where victims create a false emotional or psychological attachment to their controller
  • Fear of discrimination from their community and families

What are the signs of Modern Slavery?

Modern slavery is not limited to cities or industrial areas.  These crimes happen to men, women and children and could be taking place on any street in the UK, so it’s important that we all know what signs to look out for.

Some of the most common signs include:

  • Appearance: Victims may look malnourished or unkempt, or appear withdrawn. They may show signs of physical or psychological abuse.
  • Poor living conditions: Victims may be living in dirty, cramped or overcrowded accommodation, or be working at the same place they are living.
  • Few or no personal effects: Victims may have no identification documents, have few personal possessions and wear the same clothes on a daily basis. What clothes they do wear may not be suitable for the type of work they are doing.
  • Isolation: Victims may rarely be allowed to travel on their own, seem under the control or influence of others, have no social contact with others or appear unfamiliar with the area.
  • Unusual travel times: Victims may be regularly dropped off or collected for work either very early or late at night. They may be driven between locations, rather than arriving or leaving on foot.
  • Reluctant to seek help: Victims may avoid eye contact, appear frightened or hesitant to talk to strangers and fear law enforcers. This is often due to them not knowing who to trust or where to get help, fear of deportation or fear of violence to them or their family.

What can you do?

If you’re concerned about someone, don’t be afraid to seek help.  You can:

  • Report it to the police by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency
  • Report it to Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111 – this is free and anonymous
  • Report it to the Modern Slavery Helpline by calling 0800 012 1700 – this is free and confidential
  • Report it to BAWSO (an all-Wales support provider to people from Black and Ethnic Minority backgrounds) by calling 0800 731 8147

Tackling modern slavery in Wales

The Welsh Government Anti-Slavery Co-ordinator is Stephen Chapman. His role is to make Wales hostile to slavery and to co-ordinate the best possible support for survivors. He is part of the Wales Anti-Slavery Leadership Group.

There are many resources available if you wish to learn more about modern slavery:

Live Fear Free – Welsh Government information on Modern Slavery

Modern Slavery Helpline – or call 0800 012 1700

Modern Slavery – how the UK is leading the fight (GOV.UK PDF document)

National Crime Agency (NCA) – modern slavery and human trafficking

Salvation Army – or call 0300 303 8151

Stop the Traffik – provides advice, as well as a smartphone app for reporting potential human trafficking

Unseen – charity working towards a world without slavery

Crimestoppers – or call 0800 555 111

Hope for Justice – to end Human Trafficking and Slavery in our generation