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App allows public to report modern slavery on farms

An app designed to help employers and the public identify and report modern slaves being exploited on farms has been launched by the Clewer Initiative. The Farm Workers Welfare App, which can be downloaded on Apple and Android phones, also allows workers to check their rights and make sure that they have not been taken advantage of.

The app provides information on UK laws, workers’ rights and can be translated in to eight different languages. Modern slaves are often brought in to the country under the promise of a better life but are exploited by human traffickers and are forced to work long hours in unreasonable work conditions, forced to hand over their wages and given unsuitable lodgings.

Autumn is a key time for farmers as most produce becomes ready for picking and selling on. Many farmers across the UK outsource labour companies to hire workers to help process and pack their produce. The app provides farmers with tips on how to check that all organisations used are legally registered.

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, has supported the app and promotes awareness around the various types of modern slavery. Speaking on the app, Peter McCall, said: “Few of us will ever experience or see slavery as a modern crime thinking it was long ago consigned to history, sadly this is not the case, it is a very real crime carried out by people who have no respect for their victims, often keeping them in servitude and in humane conditions.  We must recognise the issue and do all we can to protect the vulnerable.

“Human trafficking gangs lure vulnerable people with the promise of a happier, safer and sometimes wealthier life and force them to work and live in horrendous conditions.

“Modern slaves can be spotted through signs such as the individual being withdrawn and lacking confidence, not wearing appropriate clothing for their role, looking tired or malnourished or working longer hours than expected.

“As harvest season is upon us we will all see workers in our surrounding fields and this is where we need to be careful.

“Harvesting is strenuous work and slavery gangs may use this opportunity to exploit the workers as well as unknowing farmers.

“I would urge farmers and the public to download this app as it is an incredible resource provided by the Clewer Initiative.

“It explains so much around workers laws, gives a guide to outsourcing farmers on how to check the workers are being taken care of and even allows you to report anything suspicious.

“If you feel that workers are in immediate danger please contact the police on 999.”

Detective Chief Inspector Craig Smith is the force lead on modern slavery for Cumbria Constabulary.

He said: “Human trafficking and slavery can happen anywhere. This is not just an issue for big cities.

“We often rely on the public for valuable information and evidence when investigating these type of crimes.

“So I would also urge people to download this app as anything that highlights this issue and helps people report information can help us stop this type of crime happening.

“We work hard to protect vulnerable people, stop any possible exploitation as quickly as possible and to bring anyone found responsible for these horrific crimes to justice.”

Bishop Alastair Redfern, who chairs The Clewer Initiative, said: “Victims of modern slavery are often kept by highly-organised, ruthless criminal gangs who pose as legitimate labour providers offering a ready supply of workers to farmers and growers.

“That is why we have developed the Farm Work Welfare app – we want to provide a resource for both farm businesses and workers to help them navigate the challenges of seasonal worker recruitment and thwart the criminal networks.

“The app is easy to use and will help farmers and growers avoid unwittingly using unlicensed and criminal labour providers. For pickers who may not be familiar with UK worker rights, it will provide vital information, in eight languages, on what they can expect.”

For more information on modern slavery please visit www.theclewerinitiative.org

Clewer App

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