Working together to tackle modern slavery

Monday 18 October marks anti-slavery day.

A year ago, we signed a pledge committing the council to do all it can to make the city free of modern slavery.

As part of the Sussex Anti-Slavery Network, we joined Sussex Police and West and East Sussex County Councils in a united front across the county in signing the anti-slavery pledge to eradicate slavery and exploitation and become a slavery free community by 2030.

The pledge outlined how partners would work proactively with national and local government, law enforcement agencies, businesses, the voluntary and community sector, faith bodies and local communities. 

Councillor Lizzie Deane, Brighton & Hove City Council’s lead councillor for modern slavery, said: “The exploitation of vulnerable people through modern slavery is a hidden crime. 

“Brighton & Hove rightly has a reputation for embracing and thriving on difference and for celebrating the diversity of its residents.

“However, we face the same growing issues as everywhere else in the UK and will continue to work to be a safe and welcoming city to all who come here.

“We’re asking everyone to be alert to signs of modern slavery and human trafficking and to report anything they think is suspicious.

“If you notice anyone with an unusual change in behaviour or mood, strange relationships or with unexplained access to money, please take action.”

Sussex Anti-Slavery Network

Detective Chief Inspector Kris Ottery of Sussex Police said: "Monday 18 October is Anti-Slavery Day, so we reflect on the achievements of the last year and our ongoing collective effort through the Sussex Anti-Slavery Network, which includes a wide range of partners across the county.

"Working with the University of Sussex, we’ve successfully enhanced the work of the network by introducing an online platform for its activities, included a series of informative webinars and podcasts to engage wider businesses and communities.

"The network and other modern slavery partnerships across Sussex have adapted to the challenges of the pandemic including how exploiters may evolve to exploit resulting vulnerability, supporting a number of initiatives and intensification periods to respond to local concerns."

Tackling modern slavery

In the last 12 months, Sussex Police have recorded 195 crimes of Modern Slavery, including trafficking. This is a reduction of a third on the previous year, but takes into account the impact of the pandemic. 

Over half of these crimes in Sussex relate to criminal exploitation with most relating to gangs and County Drug Lines, followed by labour exploitation, sexual exploitation and a small number of reports of domestic servitude and forced marriage. Almost half of victims were children.

The partnership is working to disrupt anyone seeking to exploit others. Operational activity has resulted in 48 arrests of suspected perpetrators of Modern Slavery in the last year, and prohibition and enforcement notices issued by a range of partners in relation to living, working and environmental conditions. 

The pledge also includes removing slave-based labour from the supply chain.

Much work has been done to develop Modern Slavery Transparency Statements over the last 12 months, putting steps in place to eliminate and eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking within business, supply chains, sub-contractors and partners by adopting a zero tolerance policy.

In addition to the Pan Sussex Network, there are partnerships in each local authority area, such as the Brighton & Hove Anti-Slavery Network, Discovery in East Sussex, and the Serious and Organised Crime Local Partnership Groups in West Sussex.

These groups work together to protect communities and make them more resilient to modern slavery, with prevention activity to reduce the risk of anyone becoming involved in exploitation. In particular ensuring that, with support from other organisations, we safeguard and recognise the individual needs of children.

In the last 12 months, there were also 141 referrals into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) of modern slavery or trafficking reported to have taken place in Sussex. The NRM is a framework for identifying and referring potential victims of modern slavery and ensuring they receive the appropriate support.

Most NRM referrals related to exploitation by gangs and County Drug Lines, followed by labour exploitation and sexual exploitation. Almost half of potential victims were aged 16 or 17.

Advice and reporting

Read the full update on the work of the Sussex Anti-Slavery Network on Sussex Police’s website.

For more information about modern slavery and how to combat it, visit Sussex Police’s Modern Slavery advice webpages

If you think you have information about a potential victim or suspect for modern slavery, or a location where you think exploitation might be happening, please report it to Sussex Police using online or call 101 (always call 999 in an emergency).

You can also contact the national Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 or the Salvation Army Modern Slavery helpline on 0300 303 8151, or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymousy on 0800 555 111.

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