Lancashire Police is asking businesses in the construction and food processing industries to be on the lookout for employees who may have been trafficked into forced labour.
Modern slavery can take many forms and recent statistics show that 47 per cent of all potential victims, who cite the UK as the location of exploitation, were trafficked into forced labour.
Traffickers and illegal gang masters target a range of industries including construction and food manufacturing.
Sgt Abi Finch-Hall of Lancashire Police said it was important for employers to be vigilant with regards to their staff and to ensure they have the right checks in place to protect workers.
“The vast majority of employers will be recruiting people legitimately, but some firms could find themselves targeted by unscrupulous gang masters who may be offering a ready supply of labour at cheaper rates. Unfortunately the people who are forced into labour are frightened of these gangs and are made to live in horrendous conditions and paid very little, if any money.
“Modern slavery is happening in Lancashire and could be taking place in your workplace. The more awareness we can generate amongst businesses to report any signs, the better.”
Signs to spot potential victims include:
Are employees in possession of their own identity documents and bank cards? These are sometimes taken away from the victim.
Think about the way your employee is being paid. Are there a group of workers whose wages are paid into the same bank account? A trafficker could be controlling their wages. Victims are often bonded by debt owed to their traffickers.
How do your employees arrive at work? Are a group of workers dropped off or picked up at unusual times of the day or do they all live in the same property?
Consider their appearance. How do they look? Are they malnourished, withdrawn, or suffering physical injuries?
Do they appear frightened? Will they speak for themselves or through a third party? How do they interact with their colleagues?
Do they look like they have untreated injuries, are they reluctant to tell you how they were caused?
Do they seem afraid of the police, immigration officials or are they worried about returning home?
If you have any information or suspect someone is the victim of human trafficking or modern day slavery, call the modern slavery helpline on 08000 121 700 or alternatively you can report on line to lancashire.police.uk/reportit.