A CAMPAIGN to fight human trafficking has been backed by crime fighters in Cheltenham.
Crimestoppers has launched a campaign this week urging people to come forward anonymously if they suspect human trafficking is going on in their area.
It has been accompanied by a hard-hitting video, which shows the harrowing experience of a young woman forced into intensive labour – and the tell-tale signs bystanders can look out for to end her misery.
They include properties being guarded by CCTV cameras and women regularly coming and going from rented accommodation accompanied by male chaperones.
Cheltenham has a history of being linked to people trafficking in the sex trade.
It was at the centre of a nationwide swoop in 2008, Operation Pentameter II, in which brothels across the town were raided.
Darren Stevens, vice chairman of Gloucestershire Crimestoppers board, said given the town's history it was important residents took time to watch the video. He said: "No matter how small a detail it may seem, if you see something suspicious it is worth reporting it to Crimestoppers.
"People-trafficking is a relatively difficult crime to spot so it's well worth having a look at the video, which shows some of the signs to watch out for.
"Particularly with Cheltenham's history being linked to people trafficking issues, we are glad to be supporting this national initiative.
"The key thing is, if you spot something untoward, however small, then report it to Crimestoppers. If it saves one person going through the misery depicted in the video then it's worth it."
Leaders at Crimestoppers said people-trafficking was one of the profitable crimes worldwide, second only to the drug trade.
Victims are often forced into labour, including being exploited as sex workers, or trapped in jobs which they cannot leave.
In Cheltenham, community leaders have voiced concern the issue is rife and have called for more work to be done to support victims. Last year the borough council called for a full-blown inquiry to be carried out to examine the full extent of the problem. Members of a task force are set to carry out research into the issue.