Letting agents are being urged to help tackle what the police are calling “modern slavery” happening in communities across Britain.
Modern slavery - where people are forced to live or work somewhere against their wishes - is a growing issue with the latest government estimate indicating there are 13,000 victims across the UK.
The police say that types of modern slavery include child trafficking, forced labour, debt bondage, sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation and domestic servitude. There is no typical victim but modern slavery is normally more prevalent across vulnerable, minority or socially excluded groups.
Now Thames Valley Police has called on letting agents to be certain they have the answers to a series of questions when they let a property:
- Do you know exactly who you are renting your property to and who is residing in the premises?
- Is the occupant the same person who completed the tenancy agreement?
- Does the occupant pay for their own tenancy, from their own bank account?
- Are you aware of any anti-social complaints relating to the property?
- Do the occupants of the property change on a regular basis?
- Is the occupant in possession of their own passport and identification documents, and have these been checked for authenticity prior to the start of the tenancy?
- Does the occupant appear withdrawn, frightened or show signs of physical abuse?
The police also admited that hidden signs of slavery make it difficult for victims to be recognised, although common indicators include, poor physical appearance, isolation, poor living conditions, few or no personal effects, restricted freedom of movement, unusual travel times, and a reluctance to seek help.