Image courtesy of Home Office Publications
The North East Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) have affirmed their commitment to stamping out slavery and human trafficking with a regional event to raise awareness of the issue. Barry Coppinger will host the seminar in Cleveland on Friday 5th September which is being supported by Vera Baird and Ron Hogg.
A number of issues will be addressed on the day, including local, national and international perspectives on modern day slavery and human trafficking. It follows the launch of a national Home Office campaign to raise awareness to encourage reports of slavery by both members of the public and victims.
Human trafficking and sexual abuse also forms part of the Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy launched by the three North East PCCs in December 2013. Keynote speakers at the event include MEP Judith Kirton-Darling, Liam Vernon from the Organised Crime Command for the National Crime Agency, Chief Executive of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority Paul Broadbent, Allan Doherty from Hope for Justice and young people representatives from Barnardos.
Officers from the region’s three police forces will also be speaking at the seminar. Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland Barry Coppinger said: "Modern day slavery takes many forms, including human trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse, forced labour including in construction, hospitality, agriculture and manufacturing, and criminal exploitation, for example, drug trafficking, cannabis cultivation and shoplifting.
"National figures show that one in four victims of modern day slavery is a child, and that 42% of all victims are involved in sexual exploitation. People find themselves in slavery for a variety of reasons, which include poverty, lack of education or opportunity, unstable social and political conditions or even war. The levels of violence and intimidation used by traffickers can mean that victims are reluctant to come forward and seek help.
"I am hoping the event will give us a better picture of how modern day slavery and human trafficking operates in the North East, and collectively what action we can take to support victims and bring offenders to justice."
Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria Vera Baird said human trafficking was a priority of the joint PCC strategy which was seeking to assess the extent of trafficking for sexual exploitation in the north east, as well as raising the profile of the issue in the region and encouraging people to report cases.
She said: "It's important for everyone to remember that human trafficking isn't just something that happens elsewhere but here in the UK and we need to ensure people caught up in this terrible situation have access to the help and safety they need.
"Whatever the reason which brings people into the awful world of modern slavery, those caught up in it become fearful and intimidated which prevents them from seeking the help they so desperately need.
"We will continue to work together and with partners to help bring an end to this horrendous modern-day issue."
Police and Crime Commissioner for Durham Ron Hogg said: "It is sometimes difficult to comprehend that such human exploitation is continuing. Recognising and acting on this issue is however imperative. To this effect, I shall put my full support behind all efforts to tackle modern slavery and trafficking, thus alleviating the unthinkable human misery it causes."
A dedicated number has been set up by the Home Office for people to report anyone they suspect of being involved in modern day slavery on 0800 0121 700 or alternatively contact the police. A website has been set up to provide more information and can be found at www.modernslavery.co.uk
Posted on Monday 1st September 2014