Conference in Bristol tackles 'modern slavery' in the city

A file photo of a prostitute
Image caption According to Unseen, there were 1,186 reported human trafficking victims in the UK in 2012

Agencies in Bristol are joining forces to tackle the growing problem of human trafficking in the city.

A conference is being held at the city hall jointly chaired by Bristol City Council, Avon and Somerset Police and the anti-slavery charity Unseen.

Kate Garbers, from Unseen, is chairing the event, which aims to define and identify all types of "modern slavery".

She said: "With our history in the slave trade it's important that every agency takes on this challenge."

'People's misery'

According to the council, the victims of "slavery" in Bristol "have often been hidden" whilst Ms Garbers insists it is a "local issue as well as a global issue".

"People imagine that exploitation of people occurs in factories, farms and brothels," she said.

"But through our work with the police and the Anti-Trafficking Partnership we've discovered that it happens in local residential properties in and around the Bristol area.

"Lots of them [the victims] enter with passports and are here legally but don't understand the system and have been told that if they escape or leave, the police will prosecute them."

According to Unseen, there were 1,186 reported human trafficking victims in the UK in 2012.

But Det Supt Steve Jefferies said victims were "very reluctant" to come forward and report they had been "trafficked".

"We want to shine a light on the problem and hopefully that will lead us to arrest and identify these individuals who are making profit out of these people's misery," he said.

"But there's a fear of the police and as a consequence they [the victims] don't trust us so that's where linking in with charities like Unseen is really, really helpful."

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