LANCASHIRE Constabulary is continuing to show its commitment to tackling modern slavery during a week of activity aimed at raising awareness.

Yesterday (Wednesday 22 April 2015) officers in Preston, in partnership with HM Revenue and Customs, Home Office Immigration Enforcement and Gangmasters Licensing Authority, executed warrants at addresses on School Lane in Lostock Hall and Beech Street in Preston.

The warrants were executed as part of Operation Eagle – a national campaign which aims to determine just how widespread slavery and trafficking is, and raise awareness of the issue.

A number of people were arrested on suspicion of immigration offences.

Detective Inspector Peter Danby said: “Despite the fact that no slavery/trafficking offences were uncovered today, our activity shows our commitment to tackling this type of crime.”

Throughout this week, officers across the county have been visiting various premises and traveller sites in a bid to speak with employers and employees about modern slavery and raise awareness.

DI Danby added: “We want people to be aware that trafficked victims may be working in places you might not normally consider, like car washes, high street nail bars and massage parlours.

“We would ask people to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity by calling us on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

Slavery and/or trafficking is the movement of a person from one place to another (this could be country to country, town to town, or even as simple as one room in a building to another) into conditions of exploitation, using deception, coercion, abuse of power or the abuse of the person’s vulnerability.

Detective Superintendent Sue Cawley, head of Lancashire Constabulary’s Public Protection Unit, said: “This area of policing is complex and identifying modern slavery can be difficult. In many cases Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) are behind the trafficking of people into the UK.

“This week’s activity follows a week of action last October in relation to modern slavery and we want to raise as much awareness about the problem as we possibly can. Although figures would suggest there isn’t a huge problem in our county, it may be that it is a hidden crime, which is why we are doing campaigns like this to raise awareness. Reporting rates are low and we want to encourage victims to come forward knowing that there is help out there for them. I would urge anyone who suspects that someone is being treated in this way to contact 101 and help them.”

Signs to spot potential victims:

Victims may show signs of physical or psychological abuse, look malnourished or unkempt, or appear withdrawn

Rarely allowed to travel on their own, seem under the control and influence of others or appear unfamiliar with their neighborhood or where they work

Live in dirty cramped or overcrowded accommodation, and could be living and working at the same address

Have few personal possessions and often wear the same clothes

Little opportunity to move freely and may have no identification documents or travel documents retained

They may be dropped off and collected for work on a regular basis either early or late at night

Victims may avoid eye contact, appear frightened or hesitant to talk to strangers and fearful of law enforcers

If a child: not attending school, moves frequently, goes missing, lives with someone other than parent or guardian

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