Police recently carried out two proactive days of action on Wednesday 15 November 2017 and Thursday 16 November 2017 in relation to Modern Slavery. The Force and partners, including Immigration Officers, carried out visits to 23 local nail bars across Wiltshire and Swindon to check on the welfare of their employees and assess whether there was any evidence of potential exploitation.
A 16 year old male was identified as a potential victim of Modern Slavery at Westbury Nails, Edward Street, Westbury. A 17 year old male was identified as a potential victim of Modern Slavery at Tips and Toes, The Gateway, Bythesea Road, Trowbridge. A 27 year old male was identified as a potential victim of Modern Slavery at Salisbury Nail Salon, Milford Street, Salisbury.
Detective Superintendent Craig Holden said “The main reason for this action was to identify whether there were any vulnerable people being exploited in our communities. We also want to raise awareness with the public that slavery can and does happen in our communities and they can help us stop it.
“Whilst Wiltshire is one of the safest places to live and work in the country, it is not immune to these types of issues. We want to be on the front foot; working with the public to identify the threats to vulnerable people in our community then working in tandem with our partners to provide safeguarding and bring offenders to justice.
“It’s not just a police issue; it’s a real team effort and the Swindon and Wiltshire Anti-Slavery Partnership (chaired by Wiltshire Police) is helping to bring everyone together to put a stop to slavery in our communities.
“Modern Slavery is an ever-changing area of crime. That’s why we have to be proactive, build up our intelligence of what is happening and deploy our resources accordingly. This operation has focused our efforts on visiting nail bars across the county.
“Sadly, these types of businesses are amongst those where exploitation has been known to take place. This predominantly involves labour exploitation of vulnerable, often trafficked, women from South East Asian countries including Vietnam. I must stress that exploitation doesn’t just happen in these types of establishments and there are many perfectly legitimate businesses that treat their workers well.
“Whilst carrying out our visits we have identified potential victims of exploitation. They have been referred via the National Referral Mechanism to ensure that they are given accommodation, food and further support.
“Business owners found to employ illegal workers are potentially liable for fines of up to £20,000 for each illegal employee within their business. The Immigration Authority is responsible for pursuing these fines. It is the responsibility of business owners to check whether their employees have entitlement to work in the UK.
“I would urge the public to be aware of the potential signs of exploitation and use that information to not only report their concerns but also to think of the human cost of their services so as to make informed decisions when buying services such as nail treatments.”
If members of the public have concerns that someone may be a victim of exploitation they should call 101 and give as much detail as possible. The information will then be passed on to the Wiltshire Police Human Exploitation and Emerging Threats (HEET) team for further investigation.