Fears modern slavery in Cumbria could be going unreported during lockdown

Credit: PA

There are fears that with lockdown restrictions continuing many incidents of modern slavery in Cumbria may be going unreported.

The charity Crimestoppers say modern slavery 'takes many forms' and is happening in Cumbria today, with victims may be less visible, and may be living in impoverished and unhygienic conditions with little food.

Alongside the county's police force, Crimestoppers have launched a new information campaign to highlight the issue. They are urging anyone with information about potential victims to contact them anonymously.

Last year, the number of suspected modern slavery victims in the UK hit a record high.

More than 10,000 potential victims of trafficking, slavery and forced labour were identified.

Here's some of the common signs to spot for a modern slavery victim:

  • Show signs of injury, abuse and malnourishment

  • Look unkempt, often in the same clothing and have poor hygiene

  • Be under the control and influence of others

  • Live in cramped, dirty, overcrowded accommodation

  • Have no access or control of their passport or identity documents

  • Appear scared, avoid eye contact, seem untrusting

  • Collected very early and/or returned late at night on a regular basis

  • May have inappropriate clothing for the work they are performing, and/or a lack of safety equipment

  • May be isolated from the local community and their family

Credit: PA

Gary Murray, Regional Manager for the charity Crimestoppers, said:“Whilst we are encouraged to see a number of reports on modern slavery that we have received from the public, this also means it sadly remains an issue in our county.

"Many vulnerable people are being exploited and living in squalid conditions and in fear. They feel that they cannot break free from the criminals who control them.

“I would encourage anyone who has suspicions that this is happening in their area to contact us anonymously and speak out for those whose voices are silenced."

 Peter McCall, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria, said: “These gangs exploit vulnerable people with the promise of a better, more comfortable life.

“It is a community effort to recognise and report this horrific crime – let’s work together to make Cumbria a safer place for all.

“It’s really important that we all know the signs of modern slavery and if we spot it, we report either to the Police on 101 or anonymously to the charity Crimestoppers.”