West Yorkshire’s PCC shares pioneering work on tackling human trafficking internationally (23 Dec 2016)

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and Kevin Hyland OBE, the UK's Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner attended an international event this month (10/12) to further work in tackling human trafficking and modern day slavery.

The Summit, "Refugees Are Our Brothers and Sisters" was called by the Pope to bring urgent attention to the 125 million refugees worldwide, including the issue of human trafficking and modern day slavery.

The event was held at the Vatican in Rome and was attended by key figureheads and leaders from across Europe and beyond.

The Summit evaluated a number of proposals for solutions both in the short and long term; reducing risks, meeting the needs of all migrants and refugees and implementing reform for sustainable and integral development, justice and peace in countries across the world.

Mark focused specifically on the plight of vulnerable people that are trafficked and exploited when he spoke to the delegates in attendance at the Vatican.

Mark Burns-Williamson said: "I was honoured to be invited by the Pope and the Chancellor of Pontifical Sciences to attend this important international summit.

"The trafficking of people and modern slavery are terrible abuses of human rights, shamefully robbing people of their dignity, causing misery to the lives of the victims' families and the communities it affects.

"We are doing some really pioneering work here in West Yorkshire and through the national PCC network, and I hope that the learning gained can be adopted elsewhere aborad to help put an end to this truly vile crime.

"In West Yorkshire a dedicated team of detectives was created to investigate and pursue criminals engaged in this activity and we've set up a county wide partnership network and a national PCC network which I lead and chair. "

We also recently had input into and endorsed a successful bid to the Police Transformation Fund from the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for Modern Slavery, Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer.

"The proposal seeks to transform the police response to human trafficking and modern slavery in line with the recommendations made by Caroline Haughey's review of the Modern Slavery Act, which called for a more consistent and coordinated police approach to dismantle these criminal networks.

"The bid was successful and in October, the Home Secretary announced the £8.5 million investment, granted until 2018/19. It will provide more than 50 additional analysts, specialists and investigators, and a Joint Slavery & Trafficking Assessment Centre to assist the police assess the threat of modern slavery crime and improve the operational response regionally and nationally."

Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland OBE, said: "The Summit in the Vatican saw distinguished delegates host valuable discussions and I was pleased to be a part of this. Exploitation within migration must not be tolerated. Vulnerable migrants and refugees urgently need our resources so that together we can protect those who need it most.

I was glad to see West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner included in these important talks. The work of Mark Burns-Williamson is both innovative and influential, and under his leadership the National PCC Network is taking significant steps forward to combat the heinous crime of modern slavery."

If you suspect human trafficking or modern slavery is taking place reports can be made by calling 101 or anonymously through the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700. Visible signs can include anti-social behaviour, overcrowding or squalid living conditions, indicators of prostitution or a concern for welfare.

To find out more about how human trafficking and modern slavery are being tackled in West Yorkshire and nationally visit www.westyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk/get-involved/campaigns/human-trafficking.aspx.

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