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Norfolk sees rising numbers of modern slavery victims

Figures from the Home Office show Norfolk Constabulary was responsible for investigating 134 referrals where a person was a potential victim of modern slavery, including 66 children, in the year to June 2023.

Overall the number of potential victims referred in the county was up from 79 in 2021-22.

Norwich Evening News: In Norfolk female victims make up the majority of sexual exploitation casesIn Norfolk female victims make up the majority of sexual exploitation cases (Image: PA)

Anti-trafficking charity Hope for Justice said many police forces lack specialist officers to deal with these cases, meaning not enough perpetrators are being investigated and prosecuted.

READ MORE: Reports of modern slavery in Norfolk hit all time high

However a new project funded with a £125,000 grant from Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) will see the introduction of a modern slavery advisor to help coordinate support across the county.

The cash boost – which spans the next three financial years – will also ensure specialist one-to-one support for up to 100 victims.

The service will be run by the charity St Giles Trust and will complement the work of The Salvation Army,  the nationally appointed specialist support agency for all adult victims of modern slavery.

Norwich Evening News: Norfolk police and crime commissioner Giles Orpen-SmellieNorfolk police and crime commissioner Giles Orpen-Smellie (Image: Jason Bye)

Norfolk PCC Giles Orpen-Smellie said: “It is crucial the right mechanisms are put in place from the very start to help victims of modern slavery and exploitation so they can get access to the best possible support from first point of contact.”

READ MORE: Efforts to tackle modern slavery ‘waning as transparency rules ignored’

Adam Hewitt, a Hope for Justice spokesperson, said the identification of victims and referral is an important step towards survivors getting support.

He added: “Unfortunately, even after a referral, many survivors face incredibly long delays in having a final decision made on their case – often years.”

Norwich Evening News: Police raid a property as property in Wisbech of an modern slavery investigationPolice raid a property as property in Wisbech of an modern slavery investigation (Image: Newsquest)

The complexity of many cases means not enough perpetrators are being investigated and prosecuted, he added.

Clare Bradley, of St Giles Trust, said: “The service will provide immediate independent support and initial response to those, aged 18 and over – men and women.”

If you have concerns that someone is being exploited, or suspect modern slavery, call the helpline on 08000 121700. 

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