LAST week officers took part in a week of activity aimed at raising awareness of and tackling modern slavery.
In East Lancashire across Blackburn, Burnley and Nelson 9 nail bars and 12 car washes were visited throughout the week by detectives, Neighbourhood Police Teams, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Immigration Enforcement.
A total of 47 foreign nationals were spoken with to ensure that they hadn’t been trafficked or forced to work against their will. No welfare issues were raised but one juvenile was removed from a car wash and safeguarded, whilst a number of people were arrested by Immigration Enforcement.
Across Blackpool and Morecambe, 13 massage parlours and 30 hotels were visited by officers with support from Hope For Justice, a charity that aims to end modern slavery.
No instances of slavery or trafficking were uncovered, but key premises will continue to be monitored and hotel managers were offered information on how to report suspicions or incidents to police.
In West Lancashire, Preston, Chorley and South Ribble, a total of 9 car washes, 3 takeaways and 1 nail bar were visited. In addition to the planned and targeted checks across the county, the force also hosted its first modern slavery conference at the Dunkenhalgh Hotel in Blackburn. More than 130 frontline workers from the NHS, local authorities, children’s services, probation and visitors from Romanian charities and police attended the conference.
DS Tony Atkins, one of the force’s leads working to tackle modern slavery, said: “All week we had officers out and about conducting checks and visits and helping to raise awareness of the issue, asking people to look closer and to report their concerns to us. “It has been a really successful week and has enabled us to gather a large amount of intelligence to help us to build up a picture of activity across the county.
“Despite the fact that no slavery or trafficking offences were uncovered, our activity shows our commitment to rooting out this type of crime and we will continue to target those who chose to exploit others.
“Tackling modern slavery is not something that the constabulary can do alone. Working closely with many statutory and voluntary agencies, like we have done this week, means that we can together help those who are being exploited and mistreated. Continued agency collaboration will enable us to combat the threat of trafficking and slavery across Lancashire.”
Remember if something doesn’t feel right or you have a suspicion about trafficking or slavery; share your concerns with us or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. If you think that someone is in immediate danger call 999, if you suspect slavery is happening and there is no immediate threat to life then contact us on 101.
Lancashire Victims Services are also here to offer help and support, even if you haven’t reported a crime to the police. Contact them on 0300 323 0085. For more information take a look at our website: http://www.lancashire.police.uk/help- advice/safer-communities/modern-slavery.aspx