Anti Slavery Experts Discuss How To Combat Trafficking In West Yorkshire

Tuesday 29 September 2019

A network of partners which aims to improve the coordination of the threat of modern slavery and human trafficking is now in its fifth year. 

The West Yorkshire Anti-Slavery Partnership was set up after a force-wide investigation into an organised crime group who trafficked Slovakian nationals to Leeds for forced labour and benefit fraud.

Working with the international anti-slavery charity, Hope for Justice, the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson set up the network which now meets four times a year.

It was set up alongside West Yorkshire Police’s Human Trafficking Team.

And at the latest meeting partners shared examples of best practice, expertise and important information to help improve the regional coordination of the threat of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Detective Inspector Rob Howarth from West Yorkshire Police’s Human Trafficking Team, said:

“The network is an important place where relevant partners can come together and take a strategic overview of the crime and look at the best ways to help and support victims and bring offenders to justice.

“This network helps to make a real difference and safeguard some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking are crimes that are blights on the communities we serve – but they are crimes that we are greatly increasing our understanding of – thanks to groups such as the partnership.

“I am proud West Yorkshire Police plays a central role in it.

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), and national lead PCC on Modern Slavery said: “I have been greatly encouraged to see how the network has developed and contributed to a much improved response to modern slavery and human trafficking, both locally as well as nationally.

“We have seen an increase in the identification and safeguarding of many potential victims as well as an increase in the number of police investigations and successful prosecutions, and it was good to hear feedback from a range of partners linked to working with vulnerable victims.

“We have certainly come a long way and these meetings are an ideal platform to share good practice and develop collaborative responses which are necessary to truly tackle this heinous and complex criminality which seems to constantly evolve where the police and partners need to adapt their understanding and response.

“You can also now follow the progress of the network on Twitter @wy_antislavery.”

Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking are crimes that can hide in plain sight but by helping people understand the crimes and know what to look for.

But by knowing how to spot the signs of this appalling crime people can help us to safeguard vulnerable victims and bring offenders to justice.

If you have reason to suspect Modern Slavery or Human Trafficking call police on 101. If you feel it is an emergency please ring 999.

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