Exmouth modern slavery victim revealed as police offer advice

PUBLISHED: 12:30 13 July 2017

Inspector Antonia Weeks

Inspector Antonia Weeks


Exmouth residents have been advised how they can help prevent modern slavery, after the town’s top police officer revealed a case had been dealt with in the town.

The issue was raised at the recent public meeting with Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez, which included discussion of the arrival of a national modern slavery unit at Exmouth Police Station.

Exmouth Police Inspector Antonia Weeks told the meeting that around a year ago officers had been called to attend a man begging in the town centre.

Inspector Weeks said: “Officers went to speak to him and close by there was another man in the sort of periphery.

“While the officers were speaking to the guy who was begging the other guy ran off, and it was clear at that point the guy who was begging was doing it under coercion.

“He’d actually been brought here under duress and being controlled by this other guy who we’re convinced was in turn being controlled by someone else.

“We took the guy who was begging into safety – we didn’t arrest him, we took him out of the public domain and in fact he did go to a safe house.”

Inspector Weeks said the public could help police fight modern slavery by reporting suspicious behaviour.

She said: “It could be someone who pops up out of nowhere offering some sort of service, and there’s something that doesn’t sit quite right, and it’s at that point you need to contact us.

“It could be something like a neighbour suddenly has an extension put on their house and has all sorts of comings and goings that again doesn’t sit right.

“However random you think it would be, please let us know. Every contact we have with someone in those circumstances helps build a picture, and helps put someone in danger into safety.

“Please let us know either directly or through a third party agency or Crimestoppers, because once we have that information we can act on it.”

Devon and Cornwall Police Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer is the national policing lead for modern slavery.

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