THE Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) in Staffordshire is joining a national network to help highlight and tackle modern slavery and its impact across the County and Stoke on Trent.
It follows a Modern Day Slavery conference staged by PCC Matthew Ellis in Staffordshire in December which was attended by 500 people including businesses and other professionals in Staffordshire.
The network will allow Police and Crime Commissioners across the UK to tackle the issue of modern slavery by sharing best practice to identify and convict offenders.
Deputy PCC Sue Arnold has recently attended a London event on behalf of the PCC to highlight Modern Day Slavery and to mark joining the UK-wide network.
The conference in London was opened by Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation) Karen Bradley MP, followed by an introduction from the Anti-Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland.
Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Arnold, who spearheaded the response to modern slavery in Staffordshire on behalf of the PCC, said: “It is estimated that 29.8 million people around the world are currently affected by modern day slavery and it is an issue which we all need to face and be aware of.
“The conference in December highlighted the risks of slavery, people trafficking and forced labour to local businesses and professionals as well as explaining the signs to look out for.
“The Staffordshire event has helped us all to be more aware of this crime which goes on often unseen and certainly misunderstood. We all have a duty to tackle exploitation in any form so we can provide the support for the victims and bring offenders to justice.
“Since the Staffordshire conference Staffordshire Police have confirmed that there has recently been two arrests in Tamworth on suspicion of human trafficking offences and a male has now been taken into care.
“Presentations from the Staffordshire conference are now available on the OPCC website. There was some interesting information as well as examples of where modern slavery exists in the UK.”
Modern slavery can take many forms including the trafficking of people, forced labour, servitude and slavery. Victims can be men, women and children but it is most common amongst the vulnerable, and within minority or socially excluded groups. Approximately two-thirds of victims are women and a third are men. Every fourth victim of modern slavery is a child.
Supporting victims and witnesses is one of four key priorities in Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis’ Safer, Fairer United Communities strategy for more local and effective policing in the county.
The new Staffordshire Victim Gateway, funded by the PCC, was launched at the start of September to put the needs of victims and witnesses at the heart of the criminal justice system. Information is available at www.staffsvictimsgateway.org.uk or by ringing 0330 0881 339.
Presentations from the Staffordshire conference from speakers including Paul Broadbent, Chief Executive of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority and Helen Gordos from the UK Human Trafficking Centre can be found at www.staffordshire-pcc.gov.uk/modern-slavery/