West Yorkshire Police are launching a publicity campaign to help people spot the signs of modern slavery in the workplace.
This follows the previous campaign which focused on identifying potential victims on the street.
The ‘Modern Slavery – Not in my Workplace?’ campaign urges colleagues to think if someone in their workplace could be a victim of modern slavery.
Modern slavery is when someone is forced to work, is owned or controlled by an 'employer', are treated as a commodity, bought and sold as 'property' or have restrictions placed on their freedom of movement.
The most common forms are forced labour or bonded labour which is when people borrow money they cannot repay and have to work to pay off the debt, then loosing control over the conditions of both their employment and the debt.
Human trafficking is another form of modern slavery. This involved transporting, recruiting or harbouring people for the purpose of exploitation, using violence, threats or coercion.
As part of the campaign the Force has designed some indicator cards and posters which reinforce the message about what to look out for. These resources will be distributed to the public and businesses via our Neighbourhood Policing Teams and Crime Prevention Officers.
Potential signs to look out for include:
· Requirement to pay for tools and food
· Seem under control, told not to speak to others
· Picked up in a van, same time same place every day
· Excessive work hours/few breaks
· Exploitation in this case can occur in various industries including construction, manufacturing, car washes, laying driveways, hospitality, food packaging, agriculture, maritime and beauty (nail bars).
· Work conditions for victims are usually poor i.e. not provided with protective clothing and the area of work being unsafe.
· Control mechanisms are used to keep workers from leaving for example, withholding important documents
· Withholding of wages or excessive wage reductions
· Pay that is less than minimum wage
Temporary / Assistant Chief Constable Mark Ridley of West Yorkshire Police, said: “Modern slavery and human trafficking are crimes that trade in people. They are horrific crimes and have no place in 21st century Britain.
“Victims don’t walk around with a sign identifying themselves as those needing help. It’s the same in the workplace. You could be working next to someone who is a victim of this appalling crime and needs our help. Through the West Yorkshire Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network we are working with partners to support businesses and achieve transparency in their supply chains.
“By knowing the signs to look out for you could help that person to be rescued from a miserable existence and given the support and help they need to rebuild their life.
“People who are trafficked are often forced to work long hours for little or no pay, in poor conditions and under verbal or physical threats of violence to them or their families."
Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) who is also the national Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) lead on Modern Slavery and added:
“By focusing this latest element of the campaign on the workplace, we are taking an approach which is leading the way both locally and nationally.
“Only last week did the Interim Independent Review of the Modern Day Slavery Act publish recommendations about the roles of businesses and their supply chains.
“It is a subject which I have discussed in West Yorkshire and at the National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network (NATMSN) and something which I have personally provided evidence upon at a recent Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC).
“By encouraging people to help identify the signs of these truly horrific activities and abuses, we can start to turn the tide against the perpetrators and help those who are most at risk and vulnerable in our communities.
“The indicator cards and posters that are being shared, will aim to raise further awareness of modern day slavery across both the public and private sector, whilst ensuring that employers fully understand their obligations in combating such practices.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Modern Slavery helpline on 08000 121700 or visit www.modernslaveryhelpline.org