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Modern slavery, domestic abuse and child abuse to be tackled by new Hidden Harm police campaign

Concealed crimes will be thrown into the spotlight as part of a new police campaign.

Thames Valley Police launched its Hidden Harm initiative on Monday, which will focus on modern slavery to begin with.

It aims to encourage more reporting of that crime, as well as others that happen behind closed doors, including domestic abuse and child abuse.

Detective Superintendent Nick John, the head of protecting vulnerable people at Thames Valley Police, said: “Because these crimes are unreported, some people don’t think they’re happening to them.

“People don’t necessarily realise they are being exploited.

“Workers are often tricked or threatened into work.

“They don’t have the confidence to speak up.”

Between October 2016 and March 2017, Thames Valley Police recorded an average of three modern slavery crimes a week.

Between the end of May in 2015 and the end of May in 2017, 120 modern slavery crimes were recorded in the Thames Valley.

Of those, five were in Windsor and Maidenhead, with 12 in Slough, six in Chiltern and South Bucks, 16 in Reading, nine in Wycombe and 18 in Bracknell and Wokingham.

A total of 19 were logged in 2015/16 but that jumped to 101 in 2016/17.

In August, two people were arrested on suspicion of theft and modern slavery following early morning raids in Lillibrooke Crescent.

“I think this is massively under-reported,” Det Supt John said, urging victims and members of the public who believe they have witnessed a hidden crime to contact the police.

“If people suspect it, report it,” he added.

Anyone who believes they know of someone who could be a victim of a hidden crime should consider their working and living conditions.

The 18-month campaign will focus on modern slavery until March 2018, when it will switch to promoting awareness about child abuse.

May and June will turn the police campaign attention to honour-based abuse, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

August will focus on domestic abuse while October will look at hate crime.

Advice can be received by calling the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.

Crimes not in progress can be reported to police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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