A dedicated Modern Slavery Team in Programme Challenger is urging people to spot the signs of exploitation on world Anti Slavery Day. Programme Challenger, which is made up of many different agencies, all work together to disrupt and dismantle individuals and networks committing serious and organised crime in Greater Manchester.
This is to support the increasing number of victims identified over the last four years.
Police and support organisations believe many more victims are being exploited across Greater Manchester.
Over the coming weeks a new campaign will be launched. This identifies common areas where exploitation occurs and encourages the public to identify and report so victims can be identified and supported by specialists.
The campaign urges people to “spot the signs” of:
- Sexual exploitation : multiple women at one address, who may have language barriers, where men visit day and night and stay for only a short time. This may also occur with men however this is not suspected to be as common.
- Domestic servitude: when someone being forced to carry out household tasks or work within a home environment where they may be verbally or physically abused or threatened. These may appear to take the form of relationships.
- Labour exploitation : when people are controlled by an employer, often made to live in a work environment or are transported regularly to work, or work long hours with little or no payment.
Figures published by Programme Challenger show that the number of people identified as being victims in Greater Manchester has grown from 167 in 2016 to 562 in 2021.
In 2021 there were 52 charges for modern slavery. While in 2022 (up to 16 October) there have been 23 charges for modern slavery.
DCI Claire McGuire said: “Modern slavery is happening in Greater Manchester right now, but we need the public’s help to spot the signs in their neighbourhoods and workplaces.
“That information will help us to rescue and support people who are being exploited and abused. We can and should help them to escape what can feel like an impossible situation for them.
“The evidence people provide will also be used to prosecute the gangmasters and exploiters who are the modern slave masters.”
Bev Hughes, Deputy Mayor for Police, Fire and Criminal Justice, said: “We have made good progress in recent years in identifying when people are being exploited and helping them to escape.
“Victims are often told by their exploiters that they will get in trouble or be deported if they say anything, but that is not true – we will support and help them.
“However, we can only help when we have tip-offs and other evidence of what is happening behind closed doors, so I do urge people to report the signs and help rescue victims of modern slavery.”
Victims of modern slavery in Greater Manchester are supported by a range of specialist charities who help them to overcome their trauma and rebuild their lives.
Among them is NESTAC, which has carried out research to better understand the experiences of victims. The stories they have been told have informed a video published on the Challenger website that describes the impact of domestic servitude on victims.
Dr Peggy Mulongo, NESTAC Head of Wellbeing Programme, said: “Domestic servitude can be very difficult to see because it is hidden behind closed doors.
“Victims may not recognise that they are being controlled and abused.
“Many women arrive in the UK on a spouse visa, which is a recognised immigration status, but their status is often used as a weapon by perpetrators who often are their husbands, to trap them into domestic servitude.
“It is important to raise general awareness on domestic servitude, to empower victims in trusting the authorities and for professionals to be able to recognise the signs of domestic servitude and to report their concern.”
If you suspect someone is a victim of modern slavery, you can report it or seek advice through the Modern Slavery & Exploitation Helpline confidentially on 08000 121 700.
You can also report incidents to GMP via 101, or by using LiveChat on our website, and always dial 999 in an emergency.
Alternatively, you can make a report anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their website.