Landlords and letting agents have been called upon by Thames Valley Police to help tackle modern slavery.
Modern slavery has been identified as a growing problem, with the latest Government estimate suggesting that there are 13,000 victims in the UK.
Police state that every victim is forced to live or work somewhere, thus, they are urging landlords and letting agents to help combat the issue and to be aware that modern slavery is occurring in many communities.
Victoria Butler, the Modern Slavery Intelligence Lead at Thames Valley Police, says: “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.”1
If you are renting out a property, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you know exactly who you are letting the property to and who is living there?
- Is the occupant the same person that signed the tenancy agreement?
- Does the occupant pay their own rent from their own bank account?
- Are you aware of any anti-social behaviour complaints regarding the property?
- Do the occupants of the property change regularly?
- Is the occupant in possession of their own passport or identification documents, and have these been checked prior to the start of the tenancy?
- Does the tenant seem withdrawn, frightened or show signs of physical abuse?
Modern slavery includes: Child trafficking; forced labour; debt bondage; sexual exploitation; criminal exploitation; and domestic servitude.
There is no typical victim, but modern slavery is usually more common amongst vulnerable, minority or socially excluded groups.
Hidden signs make it difficult to identify a victim, but common indications 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.