Landlords and letting agents are being urged to help tackle “modern slavery” by Thames Valley police.
Modern slavery is a growing issue with the latest Government estimate indicating there are 13,000 victims across the UK.
Police say every victim of modern slavery is forced to live or work somewhere. Thames Valley Police is calling on landlords and letting agencies to help tackle the issue and to be aware that modern slavery is happening in our communities.
Thames Valley Police Modern Slavery intelligence lead Victoria Butler said: “We know victims of modern slavery are often forced to live in accommodation with others – frequently in large groups which causes overcrowding.
“They are sometimes transported from home to work and made to work long hours. They have their documents taken from them and they do not control their own finances.
“I would ask any landlord or letting agent to ensure they know exactly who is renting their premises. If they have any concerns about the welfare of those living and working there, or suspicions about the financial arrangements, they should contact police.”
When letting a property, key questions to ask include:
- Do you know exactly who you are renting your property to and who is residing in the premises?
- Is the occupant the same person who completed the tenancy agreement?
- Does the occupant pay for their own tenancy, from their own bank account?
- Are you aware of any anti-social complaints relating to the property?
- Do the occupants of the property change on a regular basis?
- Is the occupant in possession of their own passport and identification documents, and have these been checked for authenticity prior to the start of the tenancy?
- Does the occupant appear withdrawn, frightened or show signs of physical abuse?
Types of modern slavery include child trafficking, forced labour, debt bondage, sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation and domestic servitude. There is no typical victim but modern slavery is normally more prevalent across vulnerable, minority or socially excluded groups.
The hidden signs of slavery make it difficult for victims to be recognised, however common signs include, poor physical appearance, isolation, poor living conditions, few or no personal effects, restricted freedom of movement, unusual travel times, and a reluctance to seek help.