A ground-breaking project aimed at helping victims of human trafficking can be created after £200,000 was awarded to the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, Mark Burns Williamson.
Mr Burns Williamson will now join forces with Hope for Justice, an anti-human trafficking organisation, to create and lead a West Yorkshire Anti-Trafficking Network (WYATN) after the Ministry for Justice approved the £200,000 bid.
The network (WYATN) will bring together statutory agencies including West Yorkshire Police together to ensure a co-ordinated approach to helping victims of trafficking.
The cash will also pay for Hope for Justice to raise awareness of human trafficking including more training for those working with victims, as well as the best ways to help victims.
A specialist team will also be established to look at how victims can recover from trafficking and providing practical information such as advice on benefits, housing, educations, jobs and training.
Mr Burns-Williamson said:
“I am delighted that our bid for money was successful and would like to thank my team for putting forward an exceptional case for money to help us tackle human trafficking.
“Unfortunately human trafficking is an issue which exists within West Yorkshire and that fact cannot be ignored, which is why I am looking at spearheading a national working group of PCCs to tackle it.
“This money will allow us to work with Hope for Justice in creating a network to ensure we are tackling this significant emerging threat together, in a joined up way, by raising awareness, ensuring perpetrators have no place to hide and victims know they have support in place to rebuild their lives.”
Ben Cooley, CEO of anti-human trafficking organisation Hope for Justice, said:
“We are delighted at today’s news which sees Hope for Justice forging even greater links with agencies who, like us, want to rid the UK of the scourge of human trafficking.
“This funding will enable us to deliver our ground-breaking training to hundreds more police officers, health workers, NGOs and other frontline staff working across West Yorkshire. We will equip them with the skills and knowledge to spot the signs of human trafficking enabling them to put the wheels in motion for victims to be rescued and perpetrators prosecuted.”
Allan Doherty, Hope for Justice Director of Operations, added:
“The funding will also pay for more legal experts, project workers and a county-wide anti-trafficking network made up of representatives from relevant frontline agencies. In short, it will allow agencies to work together across West Yorkshire to combat human trafficking by rescuing and protecting victims and putting the culprits before the courts.
“Hope for Justice works closely with police forces and other agencies in the UK. We enjoy an excellent working relationship with West Yorkshire Police and their Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson in our joint efforts to combat human trafficking and this funding will enable us, in partnership, to deliver more vital work across the county.”
Notes to editors:
The bid for funding was submitted with the assistance of the PCC’s West Yorkshire for Innovation Team.