CITY of London Police paid a visit to construction sites across the Square Mile as part of the National Crime Agency’s campaign to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking.
Officers from the force’s community policing team spoke to employees at 28 sites about their rights and entitlements over a five-day crackdown.
They also met with senior staff to ensure they felt confident in reporting any wrongdoing or concerns to the authorities, and answered any questions they had about safeguarding.
Modern slavery includes crimes which cover holding a person in a position of forced compulsory labour or facilitating their travel with the intention of exploiting them afterwards.
Although human trafficking often involves an international cross-border element, it is also possible to be a victim of modern slavery in your own country. It is possible to be a victim even if consent has been given to be moved.
Detective Chief Inspector Edelle Michaels said:
“Here at the City of London Police we are working hard to understand the scale of the issue of modern slavery and human trafficking, alongside our law enforcement partners such as the National Crime Agency.
“We are committed to giving all employers and employees the organisational support and instruction they need to protect vulnerable people.
“We are determined to raise awareness amongst our communities of being able to spot the signs of modern slavery and human trafficking. We urge anyone who has any suspicion to get in touch with us by calling 101 (or 999 in an emergency) or to call Crimestoppers.”
The need for building strong connections with the industry was highlighted after it was identified that there were cases nationwide of people being exploited by gangs and put to work on construction sites.
National Crime Agency deputy director, Roy McComb, said that the co-ordinated week of activity aimed to disrupt and build intelligence on the criminal networks involved in labour exploitation, as well as raise awareness of the issues around modern slavery for workers coming into the UK and those already here.
He added: “As well as the enforcement activity that has seen dozens of potential victims safeguarded, we have also aimed to speak to those at risk of falling into exploitation and help them understand the issues.
“This approach is important, because this is a crime that affects the vulnerable, and often victims don’t recognise themselves as such until it is too late.”