Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire | WYPCC

Experiences of tackling modern slavery shared in key seminar

12th June 2020

‘Working together to respond to modern slavery and exploitation’ was the focus of a significant online seminar attended by 100 professionals this week.

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner and national PCC lead on tackling modern slavery was the key note speaker at the event, sharing crucial learning and progress from his time in office.

The seminar, run virtually by the Academy for Social Justice, saw delegates joining from key sectors across the country including Academia, Health, Policing, HMPPS, Local Government and Probation.

Mark Burns-Williamson, said: “Unfortunately we are still living in a society where human trafficking, slavery and the exploitation and abuse of vulnerable people continues to exist, despite the abolition of the international slave trade over 200 years ago.

“Criminal gangs are targeting vulnerable people across the world and here in the UK, making them promises of a better life then forcing men, women and children into situations of sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, domestic servitude and criminality, exploiting them for profit.

“Shortly after being elected as the Police and Crime Commissioner in 2012, I made these issues a priority within my Police and Crime Plan, so I was pleased to highlight the fight against modern slavery in sharing my experiences with some really key partners in this seminar.

“I shared my view in that there are a number of areas we should all now be focusing on. Continued preventative work, focusing on eradicating slavery in supply chains, awareness raising and training must continue to be maintained, key messages of how to spot the signs of human trafficking and modern slavery and how to report it must be consistent, and continue to engage with and champion a partnership approach which is crucial.

“In recent months, we have all faced challenges due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic. As the nature of the issues evolved as lockdown measures were implemented, it will again evolve as they are eased and I am working with our strategic leaders to ensure our collective response continues to effectively target organised crime groups and provide appropriate support for victims. We will also work together to evaluate the local, regional and national response across all sectors to help mitigate the further challenges that will start to emerge.” “To find out more about modern slavery or to report any suspicions visit the Modern Slavery Helpline’s website https://www.modernslaveryhelpline.org or call 08000 121 700. In an emergency always call 999.”

Janet Cullinan, Head of Academy for Social Justice, said: "We are delighted that Mark has taken the time to talk to Academy members about the important work being carried out to respond to modern slavery and human trafficking. The online event attracted a huge amount of interest amongst our 5700 membership and the event was fully booked. The Academy for Social Justice is a networked community of people focussed on inspiring change to improve public services, civil society and help people thrive and this subject is of significant importance to all."