Days are numbered for those involved in modern slavery following the introduction of new legislation, which comes into force today.
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.
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.
“It is common that victims are promised a good job, financial security or a better life. They often come here with the aim of making things better for their families and in reality, they are often forced to work in cramped, dangerous conditions for hours on end, with limited contact with their family. In some circumstances they are force to work as prostitutes exploited for months and sometimes years
“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. This can be done directly to Greater Manchester Police or in confidence to Crimestoppers.”
Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd 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.
“I’ll be urging Greater Manchester Police to do all they can to enforce the new laws, bring perpetrators to justice and protect those most at risk.”