Soroptimist Sue Scott, Margaret Wall, PCC Barry Coppinger, Acting Detective Sergeant Paul West, Julie Everson, and Joyce Chesney.
Cleveland Police is supporting a national Modern Slavery campaign in a bid to help stop people from being sexually exploited.
Modern Slavery covers a wide range of abuse and mistreatment, but this particular campaign focuses on preventing and stopping sexual exploitation. It will run for two weeks from today, Monday 17th September to Monday 1st October.
Throughout the campaign, officers will be working with Stockton-based charity, A Way Out, Soroptimist International (a women’s global volunteer service) and members of the public to raise awareness of sexual exploitation, as well as promoting information regarding how to gain help and support via social media.
Speaking of the campaign, Detective Inspector Chris Stone said: “One of the difficulties with tracing victims, witnesses and offenders in regards to sexual exploitation is that it is often a hidden crime and many people do not want to come forward because of fear of violence or repercussions.
“We will be directing some of the campaign towards foreign nationals living in our area who are frequently victims of sexual exploitation. They could be in complicated situations which they are struggling to get out of.
“As a Force, we want to make it clear that if you are a victim of sexual exploitation, you do have rights. In partnership with the Modern Slavery Helpline and other agencies, we can provide emotional, medical and practical support which could include accommodation, medical assistance, legal advice and counselling.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said: “While many of us can’t imagine it, sadly there is evidence that the barbaric practice of modern slavery is taking place in Cleveland.
“We cannot underestimate the damage this practice has on the vulnerable people who find themselves as victims to sexual exploitation. That’s why I commissioned the Cleveland Anti-Slavery Network earlier this year, to bring together partner agencies to develop strategies and solutions to tackle slavery in Cleveland.
“Preventing this crime will rely on intelligence gathered from the community. I would urge anyone who is a victim of sexual exploitation or who may suspect that someone they know is a victim to report it as soon as possible.”
Soroptimist International work to improve the lives of women and girls in local communities and worldwide and they have provided the Force with 10 bags of emergency supplies, clothing and toiletries.
Julie Everson from Stockton Soroptimists said: “Our Stockton group helps people released from trafficking situations by providing bags with all the necessities they need. We have recently been able to expand this support to help meet the growing demand in Cleveland, through a funding grant from the Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger. Working in partnership with Cleveland Police means we can provide some comfort to people caught up in distressing circumstances.”
If you think someone may be a victim of modern slavery call the 24/7 Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700. In an emergency, Cleveland Police can be contacted on 999 or call 101 if it is non-urgent. Alternatively, to report a crime anonymously call independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Posted on Monday 17th September 2018