Updated: Friday, 3rd July 2020 @ 7:20am

'Slavery is closer than you think': Manchester police chiefs back new powers to tackle trafficking

'Slavery is closer than you think': Manchester police chiefs back new powers to tackle trafficking

| By Andrew Greaves

Police chiefs in Manchester have welcomed new legislation to tackle modern slavery, which came into effect yesterday.

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 is the first of its kind in Europe and specifically addresses slavery and trafficking in the 21st Century.

The new legislation strengthens powers available to police and introduces tougher sentences, sending a clear message to offenders that their actions are unacceptable and reassuring victims that they are not alone.

In light of new measures, the Challenger Modern Slavery Unit was launched earlier this year and is a collaboration between police, partners and the general public to tackle slavery and human trafficking in Greater Manchester.

Although still in its infancy, the unit has gathered a significant amount of intelligence and are actively disrupting and dismantling incidences of modern slavery across the region.

Just last month 12 people were arrested across South Manchester and Trafford as part of the multi-agency Operation Portsmouth.

Eight women and seven children, believed to be victims of trafficking, were also taken to specialist Victim Reception Centres.

GMP Chief Superintendent Russ Jackson said: “Slavery is closer than you think, and although it may look different to the archaic stereotype, the sentiment is the same and we will not allow people’s freedom to be compromised.

“This takes many forms, sometimes it is labour exploitation and sometimes it is sexual exploitation. The victims we have encountered so far are mainly foreign nationals but British citizens are involved too.”

Traffickers often promise victims a good job, financial security or a better life. But they are often forced to work in cramped conditions for hours on end – with limited contact with their family – or are even forced into prostitution.

Chief Supt Jackson added: “We cannot let this go on in our community, this is slavery exploitation and victimisation of the very worst kind and this is why we have created a partnership team to coordinate operational activity to make Greater Manchester a hostile place for traffickers.

“If you see or believe anything to be suspicious, an address for example where women live or are taken to with lots of men coming in and out then contact us.”

The new laws, which were approved just before Parliament was dissolved for May’s General Election, have also been welcomed by Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd.

He said: “This new law does much to strengthen the powers available to us in bringing slavers to justice and, more importantly, it introduces some vital measures to further protect the victims of this heinous crime.

“The term ‘modern slavery’ does little to capture the horror and extent of the crime. Forced labour, sexual exploitation, organ theft – these are disgusting crimes where one human being degrades and exploits the desperation of another, purely through greed and self-interest.”

Anyone with information about slavery or trafficking is asked to contact Greater Manchester Police on 101 or Crimestoppers, free and in confidence, on 0800 555 111.

Image courtesy of Christina Saint Marche via Flickr