Crime commissioner and chief constable sign pledge against modern slavery
Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner Darryl Preston has joined police in their commitment to eliminating modern slavery in their supply chains.
Chief Constable Nick Dean and the commissioner have signed a refreshed Modern Slavery Statement,setting out the actions the force will take to ensure there is no modern slavery or human trafficking, forced labour or exploitation in its own business or its supply chain.
The commissioner also acknowledged the outstanding support provided to victims of such crimes in the county by the specialist victim and witness care co-ordinators based in the constabulary-run Victim and Witness Hub.
“Tragically, slavery is very much alive in our county and people still find themselves becoming victims,” said Darryl.
“Many people don’t understand that they are a victim of crime until someone has explained to them that they are being exploited. We are fortunate to have two multi-lingual care co-ordinators who support police colleagues visiting the homes of suspected victims and speak to victims in their first language so they understand the situation they are in.”
The staff, who are funded by the commissioner as part of his model of victim support services, also respond to referrals which come through the Victim and Witness Hub.
Between April and September 2020, tailored support was provided to 152 victims.
Some of those victims had been trafficked into the UK or had plane tickets bought by a “friend” who then forced them to work for free to pay off their debt. In some cases benefits were also being falsely claimed in the victim’s name and being paid to the exploiter.
Often victims have also been living in squalid conditions, sometimes with only a mattress that they are forced to share and without access to hot water or basic facilities.
Daniela Dumitrache, one of the two co-ordinators, took on the role in 2018, after previously working in banking and seeing first-hand the impact financial crime had on her customers.
“What I find rewarding in this role is that I am able to make a real difference to the lives of so many vulnerable people,” she explains.
“This can be something as fundamental as organising a safe place for them to live, food bank vouchers and importantly help people report crime to the police. For others they might want to return home back to their families so we help arrange replacement passports and travel.”
Daniela explained that frequently the victims she supports have had their passport and bank cards taken away by their exploiter. Without access to bank accounts and with their income being taken by those taking advantage of them, victims can find themselves choosing between searching bins for food, shoplifting or starvation.
For more information on support offered victims of modern slavery, please visit the Cambridgeshire Victim Services website: www.cambsvictimservices.co.uk
If you suspect someone is being exploited or is a victim of modern day slavery in Cambridgeshire, report it by calling 101. For more information on spotting the signs of modern day slavery visit Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s website.