Cheshire East Council is teaming up with partners across Cheshire to tackle modern slavery with a two-week campaign around World Anti-Slavery day on Sunday, October 18.
The campaign will raise awareness that modern slavery is on the rise with a 47 per cent increase in the number of victims in the UK since 2012. It includes sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation, forced labour and domestic servitude.
Slavery is the illegal exploitation of people for personal or commercial gain. The facts around the scale of the problem are disturbing and include:
- Every fourth victim is a child;
- Sexual exploitation accounts for 42 per cent of victims with 20 per cent of these being children;
- Labour exploitation accounts for 36 per cent of victims with 75 per cent of these being men; and
- One in 10 are victims of domestic servitude, with a chilling 24 per cent of them being children.
Common areas of labour exploitation include factories, food processing plants, labouring, restaurants and agriculture. The signs of the various types of slavery are often hidden making it hard to recognise potential victims.
Victims can be any age, gender, ethnicity or nationality. Common signs include:
· Appearance – does the person look unkempt, malnourished and withdrawn? Are they injured? Do they were the same clothes and lack personal possessions?;
· Behaviour – do they appear withdrawn and frightened, unable to answer questions and speak for themselves? Can they speak English?;
· Fear of the authorities – are they scared of the authorities and emergency services?; and
· Medical care – do they have old or serious untreated injuries or medical conditions.
Michael Jones, Leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “There’s a misconception that modern slavery is a problem that doesn’t affect the UK. Slavery is closer than you think and we all have an important role to play in being vigilant to the signs and reporting concerns to the police.
“I would encourage everyone to have a look at the modern slavery website www.modernslavery.co.uk to be aware of the signs.
“If you have suspicions, and if it’s urgent, you can call the police on 999 or if it’s not urgent call 101. Alternatively call the modern slavery helpline on 0800 0121 700. Reporting your concerns could literally save a life.”