Our #BeyondTheBeat campaign is all about raising awareness of the issues that face the modern policing service and have an effect on local demand for policing in Wiltshire. All this week we are talking about modern slavery and human trafficking.
When you think of slavery and trafficking what do you immediately think of? Someone that comes from a country far away that is kept in chains and locked away? The reality is often very different.
Trafficking can happen within different towns and cities within the UK as well as between different countries. For example a drugs gang may force 'runners' to courier drugs from London to Trowbridge against their will. That is trafficking. A woman may be moved from Salisbury to Melksham, to Swindon for the purposes of sexual exploitation. That is trafficking. Victims are not always foreign nationals either - modern slavery and human trafficking happens to UK citizens too.
The signs of human exploitation can be extremely subtle; violence, threats and intimidation are often used by offenders to silence their victims and keep them compliant. This means that potential victims are hiding in plain sight within our communities. Car washes, nail bars and 'pop-up brothels' are just some of the establishments that our officers and staff have uncovered victims within the last year. Modern slavery and human trafficking is not just a 'big city' issue - it can and does happen in Wiltshire.
We can all play a part in helping to prevent the exploitation of vulnerable people - information provided by the public is vital; knowing the potential signs of modern slavery and reporting your concerns, no matter how insignificant they may seem, are practical ways you can help.