[A] conference designed to raise awareness of the issue of modern slavery among safeguarding professionals in Cumbria has been held in Carlisle today.
The event, which was funded by the Cumbria Police & Crime Commissioner, was held at Carlisle Racecourse with approximately 215 professionals in attendance.
Presentations were heard from a number of agencies including investigators of such offences from across the UK.
Detective Chief Inspector Lesley Hanson, who is the professional lead for the Constabulary, said:
“I would firstly like to thank all safeguarding agencies and members of the community who were able to send representatives to today’s event. I hope this will ensure a coordinated approach in tackling modern slavery and human trafficking issues across Cumbria.
“People may have the misconception that modern day slavery doesn’t happen in Cumbria, and that it is only an issue for big cities. However, human trafficking and slavery can happen anywhere and I would urge anyone who has concerns to report them to the police immediately. We work hard to protect vulnerable people and stop any possible exploitation as quickly as possible, and to bring anyone found responsible for these horrific crimes to justice.
“I would like to stress anyone of any race or background could be victim of modern day slavery. However offenders target people who are vulnerable and isolated – which can mean people who do not speak the language or do not have friends/family in the country could be more easily preyed upon.
“We often rely on the public for valuable information and evidence when investigating these type of crimes. I would urge people to take the time to learn the signs and get in touch if you have any suspicions that something is not quite right.”
Cumbria Police & Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “The first step to eradicating the scourge of modern slavery is acknowledging and confronting its existence. The threat of Modern Slavery is real and is happening in Cumbria and we can’t allow this type of crime to become established.
“The message to you is simple – if you see something suspicious please report it.
“I am pleased that today’s Conference has been a success. It is essential that all agencies work together and we raise knowledge and understanding.
“ It is only by tackling this issue together that we will make a difference.”
Signs that someone is being exploited could include:
- Scared and withdrawn
- No confidence
- Unexplained injuries
- May live and work in same place
- No access to passport or documents
- Limited contact with family, or outside world
- Doesn’t know home or work address
- Forced or intimidated to work, with low or no pay
- Poor hygiene and unkempt appearance
- Speaks little English
Types of slavery could include sexual exploitation, forced labour and domestic slavery.
Anyone with information or concerns regarding exploitation is asked to contact police on 101. Alternatively you can contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.