At a recent meeting of the Down Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP), members discussed the Crimestoppers campaign to highlight human trafficking for the purposes of forced labour and domestic servitude.
PCSP Chairperson, Councillor Carmel O’Boyle said: “Human Trafficking is a very serious and horrible crime. The PCSP would like the people of Down to know that trafficking is not just for sexual purposes. A large number of people are exploited by being made to work for little or no money and in appalling circumstances.
“In addition, there should be acknowledgement that this crime happens on our doorsteps. Human Trafficking is not confined to large cities, people are being abused in rural towns and villages and we are urging local people to look out for signs and report anything which appears unusual or sinister to the police.”
The ‘Read the Signs’ campaign was launched by Justice Minister David Ford and is supported by the Department of Justice and PSNI. It highlights that people are trafficked into Northern Ireland for forced labour and encourages the public to report their suspicions. The campaign includes a Crimestoppers Youtube video, radio advertising, social media, posters and flyers distributed throughout the region. The video can be viewed at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=bR78_
Down Area Commander Chief Inspector, Deirdre Bones said, “The trafficking and exploitation of one human being by another for the purposes of personal or financial gain or satisfaction is something that should not be tolerated in any society. The PSNI as a whole has had some success over the past few years in rescuing victims of human trafficking and we must continue in our fight against this terrible crime.”
Councillor O’Boyle added: “It is hard to believe that something like this could be happening in the bounds of our community but we should not be complacent. I and my officers are continually alert to the signs that such abuse may be happening in our own area and I would advise members of the public to do the same and report any concerns or suspicions they may have to the police.
“We are very happy to follow up on information received and would much rather explore something and find that everything is alright than have someone get seriously hurt or worse, when this could have been prevented.”
The campaign urges members of the public to look out for signs of forced labour exploitation: for example:
* victims are often forced to live in cramped and/or overcrowded conditions;
* they may be collected very early and/or returned late at night on a regular basis;
* may have inappropriate clothing for the work they are performing, and/or a lack of safety equipment;
* there may be a heavy security presence at the premises where they live or work;
* victims’ physical appearance may show signs of injury, malnourishment, and their general appearance may be unkempt;
* and they may be isolated from the local community and/or appear to be under the control or influence of others.