POLICE are urging residents to familiarise themselves with and be vigilant towards the potential signs of modern slavery as part of their Beyond the Beat campaign to highlight the hidden demands on policing.

Modern slavery can be the recruitment, movement, harbouring or receiving of children, women and men through the use of force, coercion, deception, and abuse of vulnerability or other means for the purpose of exploitation.

Often people do not see themselves as victims, but individuals may be trafficked into, out of or within the UK. They may be trafficked for a number of reasons including sexual exploitation, forced labour, domestic servitude and organ harvesting.

Assistant chief constable Craig Holden, force lead for crime, justice and vulnerability at Wiltshire Police, said: “Although modern slavery presents itself in many different ways in our communities, over the last few years the most notable and visible have been within nail bars and car washes.

“There has also been a significant trend in off-street prostitution, often involving women trafficked into sexual slavery, many who thought they were coming to the UK for other jobs and a better life.

“It is understandable that spotting the signs of modern slavery can be difficult but it is vital that we as a force, and our local communities, are educated and have an approach that helps us to protect vulnerable people and prevent their exploitation.

“Information from the public is vital in the fight against modern slavery. Together, we can eradicate slavery and trafficking in Wiltshire, and reduce the exploitation of the most vulnerable people”.

Although it can be difficult to recognise a case of modern slavery, there are many signs of exploitation to look out for in individuals. These include a lack of personal protective equipment, being chaperoned or accompanied everywhere, money being withheld from them, language barriers, working long hours, a lack of possessions and their passport being held by someone else.

Angus Macpherson, police and crime commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, said: “Wiltshire Police and local partner agencies play a crucial role in tackling modern slavery and human trafficking across the county.

“This type of crime is an emerging national threat, and the reality is the Police cannot tackle this alone and need to draw upon the local community and partners to play an equal part. I would urge the public to remain on the look-out for possible exploitation in their communities and to report any concerns they have.

“Safeguarding the most vulnerable people and offering the best possible service to victims across Wiltshire and Swindon continues to be a top priority for the Police”.

To report any concerns regarding modern slavery, please call 101. You can also report anonymously via The National Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 999.