Awareness around human trafficking (9 Jan 2014)

The Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, Mark Burns-Williamson, has spoken out about the need for raised awareness around human trafficking.

Mr Burns-Williamson was speaking after a court case this week where three people were jailed after forcing a vulnerable man to work for them up to 17 hours a day.

The case was heard at Sheffield Crown Court, but Mr Burns-Williamson said that an event looking into the scale of human trafficking across West Yorkshire would be organised in the near future, aimed at educating people about the signs to look out for if they fear someone is being trafficked.

Human trafficking can include forced labour, or services, domestic servitude, sexual offences and other forms of exploitation.

Tackling the issue is a priority in the Police and Crime Plan and more details about the event will be released in the near future.

It comes weeks after the Commissioner said that he welcomed the draft anti-slavery legislation proposing to bring in tougher sentences for human traffickers.

The Modern Slavery Bill aims to increase the maximum custodial sentence for offenders from 14 years to life and there is cross party support for action to tackle modern-day slavery.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: "As the judge in this shocking court case said, prosecutions in this country are happening for slavery and I have personally pledged to work with fellow Police and Crime Commissioners and internationally to tackle issues such as trafficking and forced marriage.

"The role of the National Crime Agency is also key for joined up strategic working to tackle these vile crimes.

"I plan to meet with more charities who work with victims of this awful practice to learn more about what we can do to help.

"I will be looking at the scale of this problem in West Yorkshire and how it can be measured accurately so we can develop ways of tackling it to ensure we are making communities safer and feeling safer.

"An operation took place in Leeds recently seeking to recover potential victims of trafficking and we have said we will use the lessons learned from this operation to inform how we deal with this shocking practice going forward.

"As this case shows, the need for legislation and tougher sentences is there to act as a strong deterrent to those causing untold misery to victims of this practice."

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019