Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner -  
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Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway has praised the arrival of a national Modern Slavery helpline and resource centre in Biggleswade, after attending the launch of the project at a National Anti-Slavery Day event on Tuesday 18 October.

The new helpline will provide victims, the public, statutory agencies and businesses with access to information and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The resource centre will run alongside the helpline by providing a central hub of information, advice and guidance for the public, statutory agencies, businesses and the media.

“Modern Slavery can be closer than you think - at hand car washes, in nail bars, among crop pickers, on building sites and in restaurants. It's a scandal that more people are enslaved in 2016 than at any time in history which is why this helpline is so vital.

“In my Police and Crime Plan, I laid out my intentions to spread the message to the public concerning the need for vigilance and what signs to look for around modern slavery,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“Having this national helpline and resource centre in Bedfordshire will bolster our commitment to tackling this new emerging criminal activity, and raise awareness for the public of the signs, leading to further intelligence being shared with the authorities.

“A key component of joint working here in Bedfordshire is our activity with the Housing Departments of our local authorities, who are often the first to pick up information of those living in overcrowded and poor conditions, “under the radar” where Modern Day Slavery often occurs.”

The new helpline is run by Unseen UK, a charity founded in 2009 that supports survivors of human trafficking and modern slavery, helps frontline staff to identify action and take action, as well as influencing government to create long-lasting solutions to modern slavery.

Justine Currell, Executive Director of Unseen UK, said: “Unseen is absolutely delighted to be running the UK modern slavery helpline in Bedfordshire in collaboration with PCC Kathryn Holloway and Chief Constable Jon Boutcher. The helpline has already taken over 60 calls in our first week, helping potential victims to escape situations of exploitation. Our partnership with the police ensures that more people are aware of modern slavery, the signs to look out for and who to contact.”

The Commissioner added: “Bedfordshire Police are doing all that they can to put an end to modern slavery in Bedfordshire but they are urging people to come forward with information. This often hidden crime is highly profitable for offenders, so we need your help to put a stop to this.”

Please take a minute to familiarise yourself with the indicators that could help you recognise a victim of sexual exploitation, labour exploitation and child trafficking - it could save someone one day.

-Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, nervous or paranoid
-Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behaviour after bringing up law enforcement
-Avoids eye contact
-Lacks health care and/or appears malnourished
-Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
-Has few or no personal possessions
-Is not in control of their own money, financial records or bank account
-Is not in control of their own identification documents (ID or passport)
-Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves

The Modern Slavery Helpline can be reached on 08000 121 700.