Operation Aidant is co-ordinated by the National Crime Agency. It is run nationally every year and involves local police forces working alongside partner agencies to tackle Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking.
The Operation targets various topics associated with Modern Slavery, targeting those who choose to abuse, exploit and traffic people for their own gain. The aim is to protect vulnerable workers, engage with businesses and gather information and intelligence to be used in future operations.
Human Trafficking is a type of Modern Slavery and is defined as when individuals are moved, either internationally or domestically, so they can be exploited. Victims of Modern Slavery are viewed as a commodity to be traded or exploited over and over again. This may be for use in criminal purposes, forced labour, domestic servitude or for sexual exploitation.
Cases of modern slavery have been found all across the country, at car washes, construction sites, in agricultural industries and in food processing. Victims are paid little and forced to put up with poor living and working conditions.
How to recognise the signs of Modern Slavery
Whilst slavery can be hard to identify, there are some revealing signs you can be aware of:
- Physical appearance – Victims may show signs of physical or psychological abuse, look malnourished or unkempt, or appear withdrawn
- Isolation – Victims may rarely be allowed to travel on their own, seem under the control, influence of others, rarely interact or appear unfamiliar with their neighbourhood or where they work
- Poor living conditions – Victims may be living in dirty, cramped or overcrowded accommodation, and/or living and working at the same address
- Few or no personal effects – Victims may have no identification documents, have few personal possessions and always wear the same clothes day in day out. What clothes they do wear may not be suitable for their work
- Restricted freedom of movement – Victims have little opportunity to move freely and may have had their travel documents retained, e.g. passports
- Unusual travel times – They may be dropped off/collected for work on a regular basis either very early or late at night
- Reluctant to seek help – Victims may avoid eye contact, appear frightened or hesitant to talk to strangers and fear law enforcers for many reasons, such as not knowing who to trust or where to get help, fear of deportation, fear of violence to them or their family.
We ask you to look closer. Could the signs be right in front of you? Is it happening where you live?
If you feel you are in a situation where you are being exploited, or you suspect someone is a victim of Modern Slavery, there is help available:
- Always call 999 if you or the person is in immediate danger, if there’s no immediate danger, call us on the non-emergency number 101.
- Lancashire Victims Services are available to offer help and support on 0300 323 0085.
- You can also call the national modern slavery helpline that offers 24/7 advice on 08000 121 700.
- You can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111or report it online. When you contact them your identity will be protected.