(photo credit; Hope for Justice)
I’m sorry to write about such a bleak, upsetting subject, but Modern Day Slavery and human trafficking are a very real problem, happening right now, in our area. Although this blog is about benefits and housing issues, it’s a duty on all of the council to help when and where we can. And any landlord reading this, might be in a position to spot some of the signs that slavery or trafficking is happening in or near a property they have a connection with.
Modern slavery with an estimated 10,000 or more victims in the UK, takes many forms. It covers everything from sexual exploitation and prostitution, to unpaid domestic work, forced labour for little or no pay, or making people take part in crime such as pick pocketing, cannabis farming and begging. And we know that some of these things are happening here in Sandwell from actual cases that Sandwell Council officers, local police and our partner agencies have been involved in.
We particularly want landlords to be alert on this subject as most victims are housed in privately rented properties. Respectable, law-abiding landlord (the overwhelming majority) might think it’s a stretch to link their properties to slavery or organised crime. But even when landlords are careful to check out prospective tenants, they can still be taken in by apparently respectable criminals able to conceal how the property will end up being used. The key thing landlords can do is mid-tenancy inspections of properties. If you don’t already include these in your tenancy agreements, its strongly recommended that you should. (Its good practice anyway – quite apart form slavery issues). Make sure you know not just who is in your property, but what’s going on in and around it.
If you have concerns, report them. Contact the police’s non emergency number 101. More information is available at: http://hopeforjustice.org/aboutus/ and do be careful when you give a tenancy on one of your properties to someone you don’t know.