Modern slavery sadly exists in Bedfordshire, and in many forms including forced labour, sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and street crime.
Someone whose travel has been arranged or facilitated with a view to them being exploited when they arrive at their destination is a victim of human trafficking – and anyone who perpetrates or aids in this practice is also guilty of modern slavery offences.
Types of slavery include:
- Child trafficking - young people (under 18) who are moved either internationally or domestically so they can be exploited.
- Forced labour – debt bondage - victims are forced to work to pay off debts that realistically they never will be able to. Low wages and increased debts mean not only that they cannot ever hope to pay off the loan, but the debt may be passed down to their children.
- Forced labour - victims are forced to work against their will, often working very long hours for little or no pay in dire conditions under verbal or physical threats of violence to them or their families. It can happen in many sectors of the economy, from car washes and nail bars, to tarmacking, hospitality and food packaging.
- Sexual exploitation - victims are coerced to perform non-consensual or abusive sexual acts against their will, such as prostitution, escort work and pornography. Whilst women and children make up the majority of victims, men can also be affected.
- Criminal exploitation - often controlled and maltreated, victims are forced into crimes such as cannabis cultivation or pick pocketing against their will. They might also have their benefits taken over by their exploiter.
- Human Trafficking - domestic servitude - victims are forced to carry out housework and domestic chores in private households with little or no pay, restricted movement, very limited or no free time and minimal privacy often sleeping where they work. They might be presented as members of their exploiters’ extended family to deflect suspicions of neighbours and the authorities.
If you suspect modern slavery is happening around you, whether it is where you live, work or socialise, please report it to us by calling 101, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
You can also contact the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.