How to spot the signs of homeless exploitation as campaign is launched across Hertfordshire

In the run-up to Christmas, the Hertfordshire Modern Slavery Partnership (HMSP) is raising awareness of the risks posed to homeless people by traffickers and exploiters.

Thursday, 12th December 2019, 5:50 am

The partnership’s campaign will run from December 16-20 and aims to help the public and businesses spot the signs of exploitation and know how to report concerns. Information in a variety of formats and languages has been distributed across Hertfordshire.

Since September, the HMSP has been providing training on exploitation to local authority housing officers. The training - which was delivered in partnership with the Beacon Victim Care Centre and charities Hope for Justice, Hull Homeless Community Project and the Passage - has been specifically developed with homeless people in mind.

There are a number of signs that could indicate a homeless person has previously been exploited or is currently being exploited:

Homelessness (stock picture)

*Are they displaying fear, anxiety, injuries or poor health?

*Do they appear confused, traumatised or have their money or documentation controlled by someone else?

*Are they without ID, or unable to speak English?

*Are they working to pay off debts or for very low wages?

Jo Fisher, of the HMSP and operations director for Services for Young People at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “Homeless people can be extremely vulnerable and at risk from all kinds of exploitation. Many have issues with drugs, alcohol, trauma or mental illness, which can make them easy to manipulate and intimidate.

"Human traffickers are known to target the homeless, who are often desperate for money, food, work or accommodation which exploiters can offer them in exchange for miserable conditions and low or no pay.

“The Hertfordshire Modern Slavery Partnership is asking local people, businesses and professionals to look out for the signs, and if someone is being exploited, help them by report incidents of modern slavery to the council or police.”

Dame Sara Thornton, Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner said: “As the festive season approaches, I would urge the public and front-line professionals to take heed of this HMSP campaign and look out for signs that a homeless person – isolated from friends and family – may have been exploited or is at risk of becoming so.”

Anyone with concerns about exploitation should call Hertfordshire Constabulary’s non-emergency number police 101 (ask for the modern slavery unit) or the national charity-run 24/7 Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700. In an emergency call 999.