Multi-Agency Operation Carried Out Into Modern Slavery

A multi-agency operation has been carried out in West Cumbria in a continued effort to prevent and protect people from modern slavery, and to raise awareness of the issue.

Officers and officials from agencies including Cumbria Police, the National Crime Agency, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority and HM Revenue & Customs worked together as enquiries were carried out in Workington and Cleator Moor yesterday, July 19.

Three premises were subject to visits and enquiries. No arrests were made.

Rob Richardson, from the NCA’s Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking team, said: “Modern slavery is often hidden in plain sight and those involved show no care for their victims, treating them purely as commodities.

“Tackling crimes like these is a high priority for us and we will continue to work closely with our partners, including Cumbria police, in their efforts to ensure the public is aware of the signs of modern slavery.”

This phase was followed up with reassurance patrols and a leaflet drop carried out by police community support officers in surrounding communities.

Leaflets included awareness-raising information about modern slavery and the tell-tale signs to watch out for.

Detective Inspector Hayley Wilkinson said work was ongoing all the time with various agencies to tackle modern slavery offences and raise awareness of the issue.

She added: “Both police and our partners have carried out significant work across Cumbria to raise public awareness.

“We work hard to protect vulnerable people, stop any possible exploitation as quickly as possible and to bring anyone found responsible for such crimes to justice.

“Many of these cases are identified through the vigilance of the public and our partners as they become more aware and attuned to identifying victims and offenders alike.

“So, as always, we would urge anyone with information or any concerns to contact us as soon as possible.”

Signs that someone may be a victim of modern slavery include:

  • They are reluctant to speak or interact with strangers and are often nervous
  • They wear the same clothes every day that are often dirty or worn
  • They have no form of ID
  • They seem tired or starved
  • They seem to work all day, every day

GLAA Senior Investigating Officer Martin Plimmer said: “Modern slavery exists in communities up and down the UK and Cumbria is sadly no exception to this.

“We would encourage the public to be aware of the signs of labour abuse and most importantly to report their concerns.

“One call to us or the police can make such a difference in allowing us to safeguard some of the most vulnerable and exploited people in society.”

Anyone with information can report online at www.cumbria.police.uk/report-it.

You can also phone on 101.

Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.