Daily Mail

Modern-day slavers and a must watch for virtue-sig­naller Banksy

- Crime · Banksy · Cornwall · British Petroleum · England · South Sudan · Graham Norton

WE ALL know what peo­ple traf­fick­ers look like from Euro crime dra­mas — slab-faced gang­sters in suits with elab­o­rate tat­toos and de­signer sun­glasses.

the modern-day slavers picked up by devon and Corn­wall of­fi­cers in the first episode of a new po­lice doc­u­men­tary, Call The Cops (C4), were noth­ing like that.

One, the skip­per of a boat that brought 29 ex­hausted Viet­namese into New­lyn har­bour, looked like a toby jug that had been dropped and glued back to­gether badly. His three ac­com­plices were scrawny, weaselly men with barely a full set of teeth be­tween them.

Com­mon-or-gar­den to­er­ags, all: but the misery and chaos they caused could hardly be ex­ag­ger­ated. after a mem­ber of the pub­lic spot­ted mi­grants be­ing herded into a Lu­ton van on the dock­side, it seemed half the force was mo­bilised to find them.

Un­marked po­lice cars headed for the mo­tor­way in re­sponse to sight­ings and a he­li­copter was scram­bled to track the van.

when of­fi­cers moved in, they found the vic­tims hud­dled, hungry and con­fused in the back of the van. some had not eaten for five days. Of­fi­cers us­ing trans­la­tion apps on mo­bile phones dis­cov­ered th­ese peo­ple had left their homes in south-east asia a year ago, and

FOUR-STAR AD OF THE NIGHT: An old elec­tric sign advertisin­g BP fuel bright­ened the bar of the Shep­herds Hut pub . . . after it was pol­ished up on Restora­tion Work­shop (Yes­ter­day). ‘Buy from the Pump,’ it urged. I hope the ale doesn’t taste like petrol.

had been limp­ing to­wards Eng­land ever since.

I hope Banksy was watch­ing. the mil­lion­aire graf­fiti artist has been salv­ing his hu­man­i­tar­ian con­science and parad­ing his Left- wing cre­den­tials by help­ing to fund a for­mer French navy ves­sel — the ss Virtue sig­naller — that pa­trols the Med, pick­ing up mi­grants off the North african coast and ship­ping them to Europe.

the more peo­ple like him en­cour­age mi­grants with pub­lic­ity stunts, the more des­per­ate souls will place their lives in the hands of evil traf­fick­ers. How thick does Banksy have to be, not to un­der­stand that?

we glimpsed the fate of those smug­gled in when po­lice raided a cannabis fac­tory in a Cor­nish town. two Viet­namese men were locked in the grow­ing room, without a toi­let or proper food.

they were pris­on­ers, forced to work without pay. the toll on other po­lice work was over­whelm­ing.

with so many of­fi­cers di­verted to catch the traf­fick­ers, a grow­ing list scrolled up the screen, cat­a­logu­ing 999 calls and pleas for help that had to go unan­swered. One se­nior cop in the in­ci­dent room was close to de­spair. ‘ we’re not in con­trol,’ he ad­mit­ted.

ac­tress sheri­dan smith was fight­ing to stay in con­trol of her emo­tions, in a can­did por­trait filmed dur­ing the later months of her preg­nancy this year, Be­com­ing Mum (ItV).

the star’s bat­tles with drink and de­pres­sion have played out in pub­lic, and wors­ened fol­low­ing the death of her fa­ther Colin from can­cer in 2016. But she has never talked so frankly about them be­fore, and her open­ness is timely: count­less women must be strug­gling with anx­i­ety and men­tal health prob­lems as she has dur­ing lock­down.

she had a dig at Gra­ham Norton in re­venge for a punchy gag he had made at her ex­pense dur­ing an awards cer­e­mony. ( after tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties halted her west End show, the Ir­ish comic had joked that plenty of peo­ple en­joyed ‘a cou­ple of glasses of tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties’.)

But ev­ery ac­tor ought to expect a lit­tle mock­ery at th­ese events. It’s a tra­di­tion, a re­minder that ev­ery plau­dit comes with a brick­bat. sheri­dan spoke elo­quently about her tor­ments, though.

the neg­a­tive voices in her mind, she said, were like a crowd of malev­o­lent lit­tle crea­tures, and her break­down was ‘like a bomb went off in my head’.

Her coura­geous hon­esty will have given strength to a lot of peo­ple.


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