Sandwell Council warns residents about signs of exploitation and modern slavery

Residents are being asked to keep an eye on vulnerable people in case their become victims of criminal gangs or extremists.

Councillor Bob Piper
Councillor Bob Piper

Safer Sandwell Partnership has launched a six week campaign to raise awareness of different forms of exploitation, including County Lines, modern slavery and radicalisation.

Workshops are being held for professionals, partner organisations, parents and carers and other community members to help them spot the signs of exploitation and how to respond.

Councillor Bob Piper, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for community safety, said: “It is horrifying to think how criminal gangs and extremists seek to exploit people in our communities, including children, young people and vulnerable adults.

“Together with our partner organisations and local people, we will do whatever we can to tackle these crimes and protect people from harm.

He added: “We aim at getting the community involved when it comes to identifying signs of exploitative behaviour. We need help to put a stop to this exploitation and the damage that these criminals are inflicting on our communities and those being taken advantage of.”

County Lines is when gangs and organised criminal networks who export illegal drugs from one area into another.

Gangs often exploit children and vulnerable adults to move and store drugs and money, and will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons.

The signs to look to for if someone is involved in County Lines include change in behaviour, signs of assault and malnutrition, access to numerous phones, associating with gangs, unexplained bus or train tickets, truancy or going missing and unexplained gifts.

Modern slavery can come in many guises including include sexual exploitation, forced labour, criminal exploitation and domestic servitude.

Victims of modern slavery may be scared and withdrawn, have no confidence, show unexplained injuries, may live and work in the same place and have limited contact with family or the outside world.

If it’s not an emergency and you’re concerned about someone being exploited, contact Crimestoppers anonymously at or call 0800 555 111.

For children at risk of harm, call Sandwell safeguarding team on 0121 569 3100 or the NSPCC helpline 0808 800 5000.

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