A survivor of modern slavery who spent 15 years trapped in forced labour has spoken to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire to help raise public awareness of the issues.
Four videos of the survivor are being released today to mark UN World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.
The videos highlight the treatment the survivor suffered at the hands of criminals and the local partnership support he has subsequently received.
At the end of 2018 the total number of referrals made by West Yorkshire Police to the National Referral Mechanism was 121, these include 73 adults and 48 minors. There was an increase of over 40 referrals in 2018 alone.
The survivor, who is being supported in West Yorkshire by Palm Cove Society requested he remain anonymous and said:
“I was forced to dig out driveways ready for block paving and tarmacking, and if I didn’t work, I got beaten up.”
“I was in a trailer, no windows in it, no doors, and every time it rained I got wet.”
“It affected me a lot because they were taking my money off me.”
Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), said:
“It’s hard to comprehend both the horrendous situation this survivor has been through and simply how anyone could treat another human being in this manner.
“Hearing this survivors story makes me even more determined, as the national lead Police and Crime Commissioner on modern slavery, to safeguard the victims and survivors of this horrific abuse and bring the perpetrators to justice.
“It is pleasing to know that the survivor is now safe and being support by a fantastic organisation, the Palm Cove Society, who have enabled him to rebuild his life and live independently.
“Working with partners, such as the Palm Cove Society, we are continuing to see progress both in West Yorkshire and nationally across all areas in tackling human trafficking and modern slavery which is a key priority in my Police and Crime Plan, but we know there is always more to do.”
Yvonne Hall, Managing Director of Palm Cove Society, said: “I am delighted that the eradication of modern slavery continues to be one of the PCC’s priorities. This promotes continued awareness raising within our communities.
“As an organisation, we work tirelessly with partners to ensure that identified victims and survivors of modern slavery are safeguarded and well supported. This is a crime that is often ‘hidden in plain sight’ and communities must be vigilant.”
DCI Helen Steele of West Yorkshire Police, said: “I would like to pay tribute to the victim in this case who has come forward and relived the horrific ordeal he suffered.
“His bravery is helping to raise awareness of this awful crime that often hides in ‘plain sight’. It could be happening on your street or in your workplace but by knowing how to spot the signs – which these videos highlight people can help us to rescue victims and bring offenders to justice.”
Mark added: “Our communities continue to have a key role to play in stopping this from happening. We need you to report any suspicions, no matter how small, to the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 or to the Police.
“General indicators of human trafficking or modern slavery can include signs of physical or psychological abuse, fear of authorities, irregular activity at homes or addresses, poor living conditions and working long hours for little or no pay. By reporting suspicions you could be saving a lives.”