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UK's anti-slavery lead endorses Cleveland's plan for victims

Barry Coppinger with Dame Sara Thornton and Chief Constable Richard Lewis

PCC Barry Coppinger with Dame Sara Thornton and Chief Constable Richard Lewis

Dame Sara Thornton, the UK's Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, has given her stamp of approval to Cleveland’s care plan for victims of modern slavery.

Dame Sara was invited to Cleveland by Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger to hear the good work being done by the Cleveland Anti-Slavery Network, a multi-agency task force set up to tackle modern slavery.

She met with Mr Coppinger and Chief Constable Richard Lewis to discuss Cleveland's response to modern slavery and trafficking, before joining a meeting of the Network.

Mr Coppinger was one of the first PCCs to set up such a network in the last year. Its members, made up of local authority safeguarding and community safety, health, criminal justice agencies and the voluntary community sector, have been working to help those rescued from human traffickers and exploitation.

They have developed a plan, known as the Victim Care Pathway, to get victims into emergency accommodation and being seen by health and social care professionals within just hours of their rescue. It has already been used to safeguard vulnerable people.

Mr Coppinger said: “I’m incredibly proud that agencies have come together to create the Victim Care Pathway which prioritises the urgent needs of the victims of trafficking and modern slavery.

“It was an honour to host Dame Sara Thornton and to hear of the work she and her team are doing nationally to raise awareness of the increasing numbers of incidences of trafficking and modern slavery.

“Modern slavery is a terrible crime which robs victims of one of their most fundamental human rights - their freedom - and I’m pleased we now have a plan in place that helps victims to get their lives back together.”

The Victim Care Pathway is just one of many initiatives Dame Sara heard about during a meeting of the Anti-Slavery Network, during which she also talked about her team's newly developed strategy for dealing with modern slavery. This is a four-part plan focusing on improving victim care and support; supporting law enforcement and prosecutions; prevention, and getting value from research and innovation.

Dame Sara told the Network: “Supporting victims should be the first thing we think about, as their loss of freedom is such an egregious violation of human rights.”

Reflecting on her visit, she added: “I had an informative and useful meeting with the Chief Constable and Barry Coppinger, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, whose commitment to raising awareness of the threat posed by modern slavery and human trafficking to our communities is demonstrated through his Police and Crime Plan and his ongoing work with local partners.

“This was an opportunity to learn about Cleveland’s Anti-Slavery Network, a partnership bringing together experts to develop practical solutions to disrupt and prevent modern slavery.

“I was particularly interested in the network’s Victim Care Pathway and I look forward to working closely with the PCC’s Office in future to learn from and share such examples of best practice.”

Chief Constable Richard Lewis said: “I would like to thank Dame Sara Thornton for visiting Cleveland to discuss the work ongoing in our area and to explore national best practice.

“As more is understood about trafficking and modern slavery and victims are better supported to speak out, we must have strong plans in place to protect them and bring perpetrators to justice.”


Posted on Thursday 21st November 2019
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