A series of pop-up events are being held across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland this week to raise awareness of modern slavery and promote the support available for victims.
The events are being run by the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Modern Day Slavery Action Group (LLRMSAG) which is supported by partners including the police, local councils, De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), Next and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
Friday 18 October is also Anti-Slavery Day across the country.
DMU researcher Laura Pajon is co-ordinator for the action group, which worked with police to develop the campaign. It aims to raise awareness about signs that someone may be a victim of modern slavery. Experts estimate that at any given time, there are 40.3 million modern slavery victims worldwide.
The force is also releasing a video detailing a common theme of modern slavery victims.
Detective Inspector, Jenni Heggs, said: “Modern slavery is a horrible crime that preys on the most vulnerable members of our society. It can affect people’s lives not just in the present moment, the effects can last for years.
“We are continuing to share our message around knowing and noticing the five key signs of modern slavery: long hours, chaperoning, malnutrition, abuse and a lack of personal possessions.
“The public cannot underestimate the role they can play in helping us convict people who treat others so appallingly.”
Ms Pajon, a VC2020 researcher at DMU, said: "We have organised these pop-up events because we want members of the public to understand this is a crime happening here in Leicestershire and Rutland and across the country.
"If we want to disrupt modern slavery and, ultimately, safeguard victims of trafficking, members of the public and professionals need to know the signs and, most importantly, where to call if they want to report a crime, seek for further advice or ask for help."
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Lord Willy Bach, Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire, said: “This insidious exploitation of some of the most vulnerable members of our society is unacceptable in a civilised society. It’s a sad fact that many of the victims are too scared to come forward and report what is happening to them, even if they have opportunity. Sadder still that some victims do not even understand that this is not a normal way to live.
“This is why it is so important that we raise awareness of the signs to watch out for and that we encourage people with concerns to come forward. I ask anyone who suspects that someone is being exploited in this way to contact the police or the helpline. We all have a responsibility.”
Pop-up events began in Leicester and have gone around the county, in Melton, Oakham Loughborough, Market Harborough, Coalville and Hinckley. Events are also being run in Fosse Park and Beaumont Leys. The campaign has been supported by student volunteers working for DMU Local, the university’s public engagement programme.
• The Modern Slavery helpline is 0800 121 700. Reports can be made online here.
Posted on Wednesday 16th October 2019