Operation Aident combats modern day slavery at car washes
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Over the last few weeks Staffordshire Police has supported a national campaign, Operation Aidant, led by the National Crime Agency, to focus on vulnerability, exploitation and modern slavery, as well as raising vital awareness of these hidden crimes.
It was a multi-agency approach with the force’s Modern Slavery Team and specialist partners, visiting a number of car-washes across the county.
While much of the activity was about prevention, education and recognising the signs of human trafficking and modern day slavery, operational activity looked at various avenues to protect and support those at risk of exploitation.
Detective Constable Andrea Jeffery, of the force’s Adult Safeguarding and Exploitation Team, said: “Protecting vulnerable and exploited victims and pursuing those who commit these offences is something we take extremely seriously.
“People who are trafficked into the UK are more likely to become exploited workers, usually working illegally and for little pay. They are expected to work long hours and could be housed in substandard living accommodation which is sometimes at the same premises they are working in.
“The nature of these crimes means that victims are hidden and controlled, so it can be hard to spot or recognise. Language can be an issue, as can trust of authority, so people don’t always speak up or seek the help they need.
“Modern slavery could be happening in your community so it’s important you are familiar with the signs that could indicate someone is a victim of this crime and help us to investigate by reporting any concerns.”
The signs aren’t always obvious but these are some that you may notice:
Being scared and withdrawn
Lacking in confidence
No access to passport or documents
Limited contact with family, or outside world
Doesn’t know home or work address
Distrustful of the authorities
Poor hygiene and unkempt appearance
Signs their movements are being controlled
Allows others to speak for them when addressed directly
Anyone with concerns about individuals who may be involved are urged to call us on 101 (999 in an emergency) or go to: Report | Staffordshire Police
Alternatively, suspicions can be raised anonymously through independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
If you think you are a victim of modern slavery please seek help. The Modern Slavery Helpline can assist you to understand what help is available including information, advice and ways to access support. The helpline is confidential and you don't have to give your name if you don’t want to.
For more information, visit Modern Slavery Helpline or call 08000 121 700.