Rise in arrests made regarding human slavery last year in Hertfordshire
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The number of people arrested for human exploitation and slavery across Hertfordshire has doubled in the last four years.
Eleven arrests were made for these type of offences in the county in 2019.
There are many forms of trafficking; sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, labour exploitation, forced criminality, child soldiers, forced marriage and organ harvesting.
Six people were arrested for kidnapping or falsely imprisoning another human being, three were made on suspicion of holding a person as a slave, one for forcing another to work and one for human trafficking.
In both 2017 and 2018, only one arrest was made for human exploitation with none in 2016. In 2015 there were six arrested for the same category of offences.
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The county runs the Herts Modern Safety Partnership (HMSP), an anti-slavery partnership made up of more than 60 agencies and organisations in the county, including the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Hertfordshire police, Hertfordshire County Council, national agencies, charities, local authorities and the Shiva Foundation, which was set up specifically to tackle the issue of modern slavery in Hertfordshire.
Chair of HMSP Jo Fisher said: “The number of reported cases of modern slavery is very low in Hertfordshire, but we know that there are many more cases that go unreported.
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“We welcome the increase as it means that victims and witnesses are recognising exploitation for what it is and know where and how to report it and have the confidence to come forward.”
Jo attributes the increase in Herts arrests as being due to the greater public and partner awareness, as well as more work being done across the UK.
Jo added: “There is no reason to believe there are more offences now than in previous years - it is more likely that the public and partners have a better understanding of these crimes and are coming forward in greater numbers to report.”
She said that many of the reports received in the county relate to people who have been exploited elsewhere in the world.
“Hertfordshire is a generally safe place with low levels of exploitation of individuals however we continue to work to tackle this complex crime type and protect vulnerable people.”
Anyone with concerns about exploitation should call non-emergency number police 101 or the national charity-run 24/7 Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.