Reports of a car crash outside Worthing Fire Station were proven false when it was revealed to be a reconstruction for a video about modern slavery.
The filming session, organised by the South East Strategic Partnership for Migration, saw paramedics and police officers join their fire service colleagues to recreate a crash involving victims of human trafficking.
According to Roy Millard, manager of the partnership, the footage will be used in two-minute-long training videos which are supported by Kevin Hyland, the UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.
They will be rolled out across Sussex and neighbouring counties to help public service workers spot the warning signs of modern slavery and report it.
Mr Millard said: “We wanted to stage a reconstruction drawn on a real life incident which happened in West Sussex, whereby trafficking victims were in a private car which was involved in an accident.
“On the scene are fire, ambulance and police and everyone’s done their job, people are made safe.
“But there were indicators there for people to recognise; things like multiple passports at the scene, more than one mobile phone which had fallen into the footwell.
“If it was a bag of white powder we would know what to do with that. What is more difficult is these subtle indicators.”
Mr Millard said this reconstruction was based on a crash involving a car with ‘two quiet young girls’ and a man who described himself as their uncle – something he said is ‘quite euphemistic in the trafficking world’.
“A few well-timed questions could have uncovered that there was something more going on than a road traffic collision.
“Human trafficking and modern slavery is globally second only to the drug trade. People don’t think it happens here but it does. It’s hidden in plain view.”
He thanked Roy Barraclough, Worthing Fire Station manager, for his support during filming which was paused when crews had to deal with emergencies.
A concerned member of the public contacted a reporter at the Herald about the reconstruction, thinking it was a real crash.
But Mr Barraclough was quick to clarify that it was a ‘joint training event’ and that ‘no-one was hurt’.