Modern Slavery Summit highlights value of joint working

mark-w-borderWest Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has praised the work of Hope for Justice in training frontline officers and staff to spot the tell-tale signs of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Mark Burns-Williamson (pictured, left), speaking after a Modern Slavery summit attended by Hope for Justice, said: “The only way we can tackle this crime is to work together.”

The event on 29 September was held at West Yorkshire Police’s Carr Gate facility, bringing together partners from the police, business, public sector and NGOs to share the lessons being learned in tackling modern slavery.

Among the speakers was Hope for Justice investigator Gary Booth, who leads one of the charity’s frontline Hubs.

Neil Wain, Hope for Justice’s European Programme Director, who is a former Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, said: “Hope for Justice were delighted to be able to support this excellent conference, which focused on the way NGOs, public sector bodies and private sector organisations can work together to end this awful trade in human beings.

“As an organisation that works closely with many corporate businesses to tackle slavery in supply chains, we believe that events such as this provide an important platform to raise awareness and forge new partnerships.”

Aht-event-3lso at the event were the UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland (pictured, right), and the chief executive of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, Paul Broad

West Yorkshire Police Temporary Chief Constable Dee Collins (pictured, below) said: “Modern slavery is a harrowing subject to discuss but this event was a very powerful reminder that there are lots of people and organisations out there who can make a massive difference.

“The event itself could not have gone any better – we had support from so many people who came along, and listened and contributed to the discussions.

“It is vital that we get it right ‘on the ground’ in terms of how we safeguard vulnerable victims and deal with those looking to profit from the misery of others. West Yorkshire Police is only one of only a handful of Forces to have a unit dedicated solely to tackling this insidious crime.

“It is also vital that we get it right at a strategic level too. Modern slavery is an issue that can affect various organisations and sectors – no-one can or should work in isolation to tackle it.

ht-event-4“That is why we held this summit – to discuss and share best practice and to learn from others so that we can then ensure that together we are doing everything possible. Everyone has a role to play – from the police officer ‘on the beat’ to the bank cashier taking a payment. The approach to tackling modern slavery must be a joint one.”

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), who is also the lead PCC for trafficking and modern slavery, added: “In conjunction with anti-human trafficking charity Hope for Justice and other partners we have trained thousands of frontline officers and staff on spotting the tell-tale signs of this crime. We created two years ago a dedicated team of detectives to investigate reports and tackle the perpetrators head-on. We also established the West Yorkshire Anti-Trafficking Network at the same time and this year I helped launch the national PCC network in the Home Office to share good practice and promote true joined-up partnership working. The only way we can tackle this crime is to work together, and this event with partners from across the public and private sectors was the latest step in developing our approach with key partners. I was therefore delighted with the take-up for this event and the input from all our speakers and participants.”

Hope for Justice’s frontline work with police has led to large increases in the identification rate of victims of modern slavery in those forces’ areas. You can find out more about Hope for Justice’s successes over the past 12 months in our Year In Review report, published this week.


Photography courtesy of the Office of the West Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner