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Revealed: the shocking rate of modern-day slavery still going on in Cambridgeshire

Slavery is often thought of as something confined to the history books, an institution long abolishe..

By admin , in Cambridge , at April 21, 2018

Slavery is often thought of as something confined to the history books, an institution long abolished.

While in legal terms that might be true, shocking new figures from the National Crime Agency show reality is something quite different.

In Cambridgeshire last year there were 25 reported cases of modern-day slavery, including labour and sexual exploitation.

Below is a breakdown of modern-day slavery in Cambridgeshire in 2017.

Types of modern-day slavery in Cambridgeshire

Labour exploitation was the most common form of modern-day slavery in the county in 2017.

A total of 19 people were exploited in this way, the majority adult men from Romania.

One British child was also exploited for labour.

Romanians made up the majority of those exploited (12), followed by two people each from Lithuania and the UK and one person from Vietnam and the Czech Republic.

Sexual exploitation was the other known form of exploitation with four women, two of them under 18, being used for this type of slavery.

The children were both from the UK.

Nationality of people exploited

The most commonly exploited nationality was Romania.

People from there made up 12 of the 25 cases of modern day slavery in Cambridgeshire.

People from the UK were exploited five times, three slaves were from Vietnam and another three from Lithuania. One national each from Albania and the Czech Republic was also exploited last year.

Modern day slavery by gender

More than three times the number of men were victims of modern day slavery compared to women.

In total 19 out of 25 victims of slavery were men.

Modern day slavery by age

Child slavery was relatively low in Cambridgeshire.

Just four of the 25 victims were under 18.

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What kinds of slave labour are there in Cambridgeshire?

Car washes, agriculture, food processing factories and prostitution are just some of the examples of where slave labour has been found across the county.

Speaking to the News DSI Mat Newman, who holds the strategic portfolio for modern slavery for Cambridgeshire Constabulary, explained how police are trying to tackle this crime which operates largely in the shadows.

Four trafficked children were discovered by police in Cambridgeshire in 2017 (Image: Getty)

DSI Newman said: "From a police perspective what we recognise is that slavery is probably under-reported so take, as we have, the number of crimes or referrals. We must treat it with caution in that, that's not necessarily the definitive picture."

Modern-day slavery can take many forms and the categories they are placed in is not exhaustive.

"What we see is generally labour exploitation and sexual exploitation, two big categories and labour covers a vast array of things," said DSI Newman.

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He explains that in many cases people think they have genuine employment opportunities only to discover later the horrors of labour or sexual exploitation.

He added: "Sexual exploitation, we see it time and again. Where people are offered labour opportunities, thinking 'that sounds like good money' and then they find themselves being exploited.

"What commonly happens is that someone says 'I can get you work', puts them in accommodation, says 'I'll cover the bills' and leaves them there, before offering them work. But then that person starts saying 'you owe me money because I helped you'. So effectively it's debt bondage."

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Modern day slavery commonly involves trafficking people from one place to another, even within parts of the UK.

Young people can be particularly vulnerable and it's key that these cases are found and dealt with as soon as possible.

Human trafficking can take many forms (Image: Getty)

DSI Newman said: "For example, there are cases where young people have been moved from one location to another for the purpose of sexual exploitation. While these cases may involve sexual offences, including rape, there are also trafficking offences and therefore a referral will be made.

"Equally, where we have identified a young person who has been subject to trafficking and slavery elsewhere, including abroad, we would make a referral."

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He added: "Some people come to police and say 'I have come to the UK and I've now had my documents taken from me, passport, and I'm working and getting no pay'."

"It's not just the trafficking from abroad, it's also the trafficking from other places in the UK."

Sexual exploitation and the case of Sun Sun Wong

Sun Sun Wong outside Cambridge Crown Court where she is facing charges of controlling prostitution for gain and converting criminal property (Image: Keith Jones)

Modern-day slavery is often set up by organised criminals.

In 2015 and 2016 Police in Cambridge became aware of a prostitution ring being run in the city.

DSI Newman said: "In October 2015, January 2016 and February 2016 they (police) arranged to meet with three women and were given an address in Midsummer Court, Cambridge. Each time they were greeted by lone women who didnt have the mobile phone used to make the appointment.

"In February 2016 they also met a woman in Blucher Street, Birmingham.

"Investigations revealed that the properties they were using was being rented out by Sun Sun Wong and her mobile phone number was linked to the accounts set up in the names of various prostitutes working in Cambridge and Birmingham."

Midsummer Court, Cambridge, where a flat was used as a brothel (Image: Keith Jones)

He added: "Further work revealed more than £400,000 had been paid into her various bank accounts over a two year period. Payments of between £1,500 and £2,500 were often deposited weekly.

"Throughout the trial Wong denied any involvement and claimed that a woman named Anita had used her identity to carry out the crimes but was never able to provide further details to police."

The 42-year-old was jailed for five years in February this year.

A jury at Cambridge Crown Court found her guilty of controlling prostitution for gain and converting criminal property, and of acting as a 'madam' to a network of prostitutes spread across the country.

How can you spot modern-day slavery?

DSI Newman said: "It's sometimes in front of us but members of the public we haven't looked at it through the lens of labour exploitation. That's where it's incumbent to ask, 'do we know what slavery looks like?'

Ask 'Do I recognise something a bit concerning? If I do what do I do?'"

"From my perspective, the better we are able to protect those who are most vulnerable and build a case against people exploiting other people then the better."

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He added: "If people are being exploited then can can protect them and prosecute the offenders."

Signs of a pop-up brothel

  • Limited activities usually associated with new people moving into a property (e.g. no removals)
  • Limited, or scarcely, furnished, appears no one actually living there
  • Multiple women living at the address, or who may be brought to and taken from the address by an individual
  • Multiple vehicles visiting the property at any one time
  • Many frequent visitors, usually male, who dont stay for long periods of time
  • Not being able to come and go as they wish
  • Being under 18 and providing commercial sex acts
  • Working in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp/manager

Signs of sexual abuse

  • being underage and taking part in inappropriate or risky behaviour
  • having older boyfriends or girlfriends
  • receiving unexplained and expensive gifts like mobile phones and clothes
  • multiple mobile phones and worrying about losing contact via mobile
  • changes in the way they dress
  • going to hotels or other unusual locations to meet friends
  • getting in/out of different cars driven by unknown people
  • being involved in abusive relationships and intimidated and fearful of certain people or situations
  • not going to school and getting involved with crime, drugs or alcohol abuse
  • having mood swings

You can report any concerns you have online or call 0800 0121 700.

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