International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

Slavery is a despicable crime that exploits the most vulnerable people in our society and, as unlikely as it may seem, it is still prevalent in our communities today.

The chances are that you will have come into contact with victims without realising it, perhaps at a hand car wash or nail bar. These victims often come to the UK with the promise of well-paid work and a better quality of life but are forced to work for little or no money, and to live in appalling conditions.

Then there are those that are trafficked into the country to work for drug gangs, those forced into sex work, or those who have problems with substance misuse, or mental health, that are taken advantage of for others gain.

Earlier in the year, before Covid restrictions were introduced, I visited a project funded by my office called the Sanctuary. The Sanctuary provides support and advice to refugees and asylum seekers. I met a young boy that had been trafficked to the UK to work in cannabis farms. Watching him play on the Xbox with his friends you would never have known of the horrors he had experienced. Sadly, there are too many people like him in Wales and right across the UK.

I am the Welsh PCC lead for modern slavery and I am proud that, here in Gwent, we have made great strides to tackle this problem. Gwent Police was the first force in Wales to create a dedicated team to investigate modern slavery and this includes a dedicated Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Victim Advocate to ensure that victims of this appalling crime receive the support they need.

However, the responsibility for tackling slavery does not lie solely with policing. If you suspect modern slavery is happening, suspect something is not right, or have concerns about someone, report it as soon as you can.

Some of the signs to look out for include:

  • limited family contact
  • physical abuse/ appearing malnourished
  • distrust of authority
  • having no friends
  • acting as if under another's control
  • disorientation
  • avoiding eye contact
  • unable to speak any English

If you suspect someone may be a victim please call Gwent Police on 101. In an emergency always call 999.