MODERN slavery IS happening and it could be happening where you live – that’s the message from Lancashire Constabulary

All this week (week commencing Monday 13 October 2014), the force will be carrying out visits to various premises across the county and speaking with people in a bid to give them a better understanding of just what modern slavery and human trafficking is.

Put simply, 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.

“However, in some cases victims will willingly travel into the UK by their own means, sometimes at the request of their own families), to then only make their first contact with their trafficker based upon an offer of apparent legal and legitimate employment, unaware of the situation that awaits them.

“Here in Lancashire we want to raise as much awareness about modern slavery as we possibly can. Although figures would suggest there isn’t a huge problem in our county, we know it is happening. Reporting rates are low and we want to encourage victims to come forward knowing that there is help out there for them.”

Officers will be visiting premises across Lancashire such as massage parlours, takeaways, car washes and traveller sites in a bid to speak with employers and employees about modern slavery and raise awareness.

Information about modern slavery will also be posted on Lancashire Constabulary’s Facebook and Twitter accounts throughout the week using #modernslavery – you can follow them at

Detective Superintendent Cawley added: “The aim of this week of activity is to drive home the message that modern slavery IS happening and it could be happening near you. Sometimes, victims are unaware they are victims or are in fear of those controlling them which can prevent them from seeking help. 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 appearwithdrawn
  • 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

The week of action ends with national Anti-Slavery Day on Saturday 18 October. The day was created by Act of Parliament to raise awareness of modern slavery and to inspire people to eliminate it. The Anti-Slavery Day Bill became law in 2010. The bill defines modern-day slavery as child trafficking, forced labour, domestic servitude and trafficking for sexual exploitation.


In 2013 there were 1,746 referrals of potential victims of trafficking (PVoT) across the country – this represents a 47% increase on 2012 referrals. But these are just the known victims. Slavery’s hidden nature means actual numbers are likely to be much higher. The PVoTs were reported to be from 112 countries of origin – an 18% increase on 2012 country of origin totals.

The 1,746 referrals were made up of 1,122 females (64%) and 624 males (36%) with 1,295 (74%) referred for adult exploitation categories, 450 (26%) being referred for under 18s exploitation types and 1 (<1%) of unidentified age at time of exploitation.

Of the 450 people under the age of 18 who were trafficked in the UK, 63 of them were from the UK and trafficked internally – the UK was the second highest country in terms of under 18s referrals after Vietnam. 

Here are the 10 most common countries of origin for adult referrals in 2013:

  • Albania
  • Nigeria
  • Vietnam
  • Romania
  • UK
  • Poland
  • Hungary
  • China
  • Lithuania
  • Latvia

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