More than 20 victims of human trafficking or slavery in Avon and Somerset

PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 March 2018 | UPDATED: 07:16 27 March 2018

Police found 27 victims of modern slavery living in Avon and Somerset.

Police found 27 victims of modern slavery living in Avon and Somerset.

Louis-Paul St-Onge

Avon and Somerset police identified more than 20 victims of modern slavery across the region last year.

Police found 27 victims of modern slavery living in Avon and Somerset.Police found 27 victims of modern slavery living in Avon and Somerset.

A National Crime Agency report released yesterday (Monday) confirmed 27 individuals, 24 of which were adults and three minors, were victims of human trafficking or slavery.

The report also highlighted the fight against modern slavery and the efforts taken to identify and protect potential victims.

The police have been working closely with the charity Unseen, which deals with survivors of modern slavery and trafficking through the regional anti-slavery partnership.

Officers and staff receive regular training on modern slavery offences and what to do if they suspect someone is a victim.

Police also undertake regular welfare visits to businesses where modern slavery could be happening.

These operations have led to positive results, with three people being jailed for modern slavery offences linked to nail bars, including one in Bath earlier this year.

Chief Inspector Mark Edgington, chairman of the regional anti-slavery partnership, said: “We are continuing to improve in recognising the signs of this incredibly complex crime.

“We need the community to help us end this crime once and for all by looking out for people who are often withdrawn, scared or unwilling to interact, as they may be showing signs of mistreatment and ill health or living in over-crowded, cramped and dirty accommodation.

“Trust your instincts, because if something does not look or feel right, it probably isn’t.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “Tackling modern slavery and human trafficking is part of my priority of protecting the most vulnerable from harm.

“One victim of modern slavery is too many, so in identifying 27 individuals, this shows our collective commitment to supporting vulnerable victims of this terrible crime.

“Modern slavery cannot be tackled in isolation, which is why we all have a role to play in being a louder voice for those who are trafficked and exploited.”

Anyone with suspicions should call the non-emergency number on 101, or the national Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121700.

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