A NATIONAL operation to tackle modern slavey has helped make 44 people in Gwent safe.

Operation Aident, led by the National Crime Agency (NCA), focused on hand car washes; the modern slavery team at Gwent Police visited 16 car washes in its area during the operation, with further visits planned.

Among them was a car wash in Pontygwindy Road, Caerphilly.

Across the UK, 3,777 potential victims of modern slavery were referred to the Home Office in the first three months of 2022 - the highest number of referrals since 2009, when the national referral mechanism (NRM) began.

PC Stephen Jones, of the modern slavery team, said: 

“Our modern slavery team will continue to work tirelessly to identify and provide safeguarding opportunities to vulnerable people who fall victim to the various forms of exploitation perpetuated by those who treat other humans as a cheap commodity. 

“We urge the public to make themselves aware of the signs and indicators of exploitation that will be evident within every community. 

“Exploitation really can be hidden in plain sight. Stop and think: if it appears to you that someone needs help, please report your concerns to us.

“Your concern and report could lead to a lifesaving intervention.”

Modern slavery takes many different forms, from forced labour and sexual exploitation.

Working together with partners, Gwent’s Police’s modern slavery team makes safeguarding visits to support and help those at risk of exploitation. The team also targets criminals who exploit vulnerable people. 

South Wales Argus:

Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Jeff Cuthbert, is the all-Wales PCC lead for modern day slavery. He said: 

“Slavery is a despicable crime that exploits some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

“The chances are that you will encounter victims without realising it, perhaps at a hand car wash or nail bar." 

He added that often these victims come to the UK with "the promise of well-paid work and a better quality of life" but are instead "forced to work for little or no money, and to live in appalling conditions."

People are also trafficked into the country to work for drugs gangs, or are sometimes forced into sex work.

Some have mental health or substant misuse problems, which are taken advantage of for others gain.

"The responsibility for tackling slavery does not lie solely with policing," continued Mr Cuthbert.

“If you suspect slavery is happening, suspect something is not right, or have concerns about someone, report it as soon as you can.”

If you have concerns or information about modern slavery/human trafficking you can:

  • Call 101;
  • Directly message Gwent Police on social media;
  • Call the Modern Slavery helpline on 08000 121 700;
  • Visit www.modernslaveryhelpline.org;
  • Call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

You can also report any concerns you might have by using the Safe Car Wash app here.