There were more than 50 victims of human trafficking in Derbyshire last year, it has been revealed.
A Derbyshire County Council report said that in 2017 there were 53 people illegally brought into the country by others for criminal purposes.
These victims have been held against their will and exploited – often for manual labour and prostitution – through the use of violence, deception or coercion, it said.
Out of the 53 victims, 32 were adults and 21 were children.
The council report, discussed at a scrutiny committee on Wednesday, September 5, stated a selection of occupations which the victims had been forced to do.
These include sexual exploitation; car washing; meat processing; nail bar work; warehouse operations; domestic servitude; and cannabis farm worker.
Those rescued from labour exploitation were Roma, Latvian; Czech and Slovak nationals.
Victims from the cannabis farms were largely Vietnamese.
Other nationalities included Albanian; Bulgarian; Chinese; Hungarian; Indian; Nepalese; Panamanian; Filipinos; Polish; and Romanian – although some of the trafficking/modern slavery victims were also British.
Speaking at the meeting, head of community safety at the county council Christine Flinton said that the authority is made aware by the police of upcoming raids on businesses or properties at which human trafficking is believed to be taking place.
This warning can often be as little as three weeks but the authority’s emergency planning team sets up a reception centre for any victims rescued from these locations.
She said: “The purpose of the centre is to provide a safe place where victims of modern slavery can be brought to and cared for whilst the police operation is in progress.”
Victims are given the option of being referred to the National Referral Mechanism which helps to ensure they receive appropriate support.
This referral requires the victim’s consent.
Ms Flinton said that victims who do not go into the NRM may need longer term support if they decide to stay in Derbyshire but cannot return to the
property that they were living in – due to threats to their safety or fear of a threat by the people who had coerced or entrapped them.
The NRM grants a minimum 45-day “reflection and recovery” period for the victims, where their needs are assessed.
In this period the victim could be moved anywhere in the country – they do not have a choice where – and cannot disclose this information, for their own safety.
Liz Partington, the county council’s emergency planning manager, said that victims of modern slavery or human trafficking often believe their situation is better than the one they faced in their home country – and may not want to cooperate with authorities.
She emphasised the need for members of the public to be able to notice the signs, which may be as little as having an uncomfortable feeling or uneasiness that something is not quite right when visiting a business such as a car wash.
This could be a lack of safety equipment, suggesting a disregard for health and safety, at a local business.
Ms Flinton gave the example of a parent at a Derbyshire school who noticed a young girl being dropped off at school and felt that something was wrong.
The parent in question alerted the police and the young girl turned out to be in domestic servitude.
Ms Flinton said that the most difficult step is to ensure that the public changes its behaviour to be able to notice the signs.
If you feel there is a potential victim at immediate risk then contact the police immediately on 999 and make it clear that the case involves modern slavery and human trafficking.