Northamptonshire Police has today (Thursday, June 17) launched a major campaign to raise awareness of modern slavery, with the help of funding from Northamptonshire’s Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.
The powerful campaign includes a 60-second animation and a suite of powerful visuals and messages, aiming to raise awareness of what is a growing problem. It encourages people to look beyond a seemingly ‘normal’ situation to see the real person and their potential predicament.
The strapline “it’s probably nothing, but….” has been chosen to ‘nudge’ people into reporting signs – however insignificant they seem. The information provided could be the missing piece of the jigsaw which enables officers to take swift action to safeguard victims and bring offenders to justice.
Modern slavery is a term used to describe the exploitation of other people for personal or commercial gain. Because of its nature, it is often hidden in plain sight. The main drivers – poverty, lack of opportunity and other vulnerabilities – have intensified because of the Covid pandemic and increased the risk of exploitation and abuse.
The campaign will run throughout the summer.
Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Stephen Mold said: “I invested in this campaign because it’s absolutely crucial our communities understand what modern slavery is and what vulnerability looks like.
“Modern slavery is happening all around us. We need the public to be our eyes and ears and we’re encouraging them to take action and pick up the phone if there’s any sign somebody is being exploited.
“The number of suspected cases of modern slavery is on the increase. This is a global and local problem and everybody has a part to play in combatting this issue.
“Although you may not see it, modern day slavery exists in Northamptonshire and often goes unnoticed in our local communities. Sadly, it’s happening all around us, sometimes in places we might usually visit, but it goes unnoticed. It might be your local hand car wash, a nail bar or even your village takeaway, all hidden in plain sight. Slavery and trafficking is a real growing cause for concern across this county.”
Detective Superintendent Lee McBride, head of Serious and Organised Crime, said: “Northamptonshire Police is committed to tackling all forms of exploitation and this campaign is one of a range of tactics we’re using to raise awareness of what is a heinous crime where victims are often controlled by force, threats, coercion, abduction, fraud and deception.
“Modern slavery has exploitation at its core. It comes in many forms, including labour exploitation, criminal and sexual exploitation and people trafficking.
“Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) is now the most common child exploitation category, affecting children from every colour and class. County Lines is a business model used by crime gangs, based on a dedicated phone line for illicit drug supply, fronted by children and vulnerable adults systematically targeted, recruited, exploited and trafficked.
“Common themes within County Lines are coercion, threats, sexual violence and exploitation, money-laundering, kidnap, weapon carriage and storage including firearms, debt bondage and serious violence.
“Victims are often terrified of their exploiters and unable to raise the alarm and signal for help. We must do everything in our power to protect them and bring offenders to justice. We can’t do this alone – we need the public’s help to report information to us, however inconsequential it may seem. It could be the missing link which enables us to take action and safeguard victims from what is a horrendous fate.”
Paul Fell, Director of Delivery for the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, and Chairman of the countywide Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Board, said: “We are working hard across many different organisations in the private and public sector to make sure that our staff can recognise the signs that someone might be exploited and crucially, know how to report it. This campaign aims to ensure that anyone in our community who sees something that concerns them, can pass those concerns on.”
If you suspect modern day slavery or have concerns about a vulnerable person, please call 101. Alternatively you can direct your call anonymously via the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 or Crimestoppers, in confidence, on 0800 111 555.