Modern slavery week

Posted on: 28 November 2017

A co-ordinated response to raise awareness of modern slavery took place on 16 and 17 October across Mid Devon.  Operation Autumn was a multi-agency initiative led by Devon and Cornwall Police and involved a number of officers from Mid Devon District Council (Environmental Health, Private Sector Housing and Licensing), the Border Agency and the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority.

Visits were made to a wide range of premises including nail bars, hand car washes, restaurants, takeaways, food processors, farms, warehouses and residential accommodation offering reassurance to migrant workers that their working and housing conditions are safe and legal.

The operation was launched in support of the Devon MIGWAG (migrant worker action group) aimed at preventing the harm and exploitation of workers across Devon.  MIGWAG also seeks to disrupt criminal activity associated with modern slavery and prosecute those responsible where possible.

Over 20 officers were collectively deployed to thirty premises in Mid Devon and one potential victim of modern slavery was rescued.  The Vietnamese female, suspected to be under 18 years old, is currently in the care of Devon Social Services and was referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), operated by the UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC), which ensures that victims receive appropriate help and support.  An arrest was made and police investigations are continuing.  Environmental Health are taking action over poor working and housing conditions in a number of premises.

Modern slavery comes in different forms which includes labour exploitation.  The results from Operation Autumn have been very encouraging, particularly in respect of the excellent level of partnership working with other agencies on the ground and in increasing the understanding of modern slavery.  Victims may not regard themselves as being exploited, and are often reluctant to talk to police.

If you suspect that modern slavery is taking place please email 101@dc.police.uk or call 101. Information can also be passed anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers, by calling 0800 555 111 or reporting online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.  The Crimestoppers website www.readthesigns.co.uk contains a guide on recognising the signs of labour exploitation and modern slavery. If you need help, advice or information about any modern slavery issue you can contact the modern slavery helpline confidentially, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 08000 121 700 or visit the website www.modernslaveryhelpline.org

Alternatively any information can be reported in strict confidence to the Lead Officer in Environmental health on 01884 255255 or email: health@middevon.gov.uk

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Posted in: Environment