Police appeal to public to ‘be our eyes and ears’ to beat human trafficking in Hertfordshire

Amanda Bell

Amanda Bell - Credit: Archant

Hertfordshire has ‘a problem’ with human trafficking and modern day slavery, according to police, and they are asking the public to be its ‘eyes and ears’ to combat the issue.

Speaking after a human trafficking seminar at Hertfordshire Constabulary headquarters in Welwyn Garden City, Det Chief Insp Amanda Bell admitted there were problems with trafficking and modern day slavery in the county.

Speaking to the Comet, she said: “We do have a problem, but I am not saying it is a big problem.

“The seminar was held so people understand what the issue is about and what we can do in Herts going forward.”

Modern slavery takes many forms including: child trafficking, forced labor, debt bondage, sexual exploitation and domestic servitude.

There is no typical victim of slavery – victims can be men, women and children of all ages and cut across the population. But it is normally more prevalent among the most vulnerable, minority or socially excluded groups.

As the new Modern Day Slavery bill waits in the House of Commons for the royal assent to become law, police forces around the county are scrambling to reveal the extent of the problem in Herts.

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Nail bars, tarmacing companies, cannabis farms, brothels and car washes are at the forefront of investigations, DCI Bell said, but are by no means the only places crimes occur.

DCI Bell could not provide any statistics for how many instances of trafficking had been caught or dealt with in Hertfordshire and said new figures were being compiled.

Victims of sexual exploitation could also be being trafficked from town-to-town as well as around towns, she said.

She could not specify which towns were at risk of the crimes and said they also took place in more rural areas. People are being asked to keep an eye out for any changes in activities around buildings that are not in use.

Victims could be of any age and background, and she encouraged people to not only think of victims as foreigners brought into the country, but native Britons too.

Det Chief Insp Bell added: “It is about making people aware and being vigilant and reporting something if they have any concerns.”

To contact police call 101, the Modern Slavery Helpline 0800 0121 700 or Crimestoppers, in confidence, on 0800 555 111.