Wednesday 3rd August 2016
One of the UK’s leading anti slavery charities Hope for Justice, today welcomed Theresa May’s comments that she intends to rid the world of the ‘barbaric evil’ of modern day slavery and establish the first ever government task force. One year on from the modern slavery act, the charity wholly endorses the Prime Minister’s commitment to this key issue, but highlights that for Britain to continue to lead the way it is not enough to just have specialist units, it must also have every police officer across the country trained in spotting the signs of trafficking and know how to respond.
Since 2008, Hope for Justice has developed a leading team of specialist investigators, lawyers, trainers and survivor support staff. These specialist investigators, many of whom are former police officers, are embedded in local communities across the UK and operate out of regional offices known as ‘Hubs’.
In 2012 the charity found that, 61% of the people they assisted had initially gone to the police during their exploitation but were turned away and told it was a civil matter. The Hope for Justice team quickly realised that to make a significant impact on human trafficking in every region they needed to develop a close working partnership with the local Police.
The charity set up the first regional hub in West Yorkshire, to work with West Yorkshire Police, the country’s 4th largest police force. This decision proved highly significant, seeing 110 rescues of victims of modern slavery in the hub’s first year of operation and resulting in almost tripling the number of victims identified and rescued by the police in one year, with a 190% increase in victim identification, many of whom were rescued from forced labour and child exploitation. *1
Ben Cooley, CEO of Hope for Justice says, “We celebrate the great steps Theresa May and Kevin Hyland have already made in eradicating slavery in this country. From March 2015 – April 2016, 87% of all referrals made to us have been a direct result of the training we have provided and because of the close working partnership with local police forces.”
He continues, “We now have the opportunity to stand on the great foundations set by our Prime Minister and Kevin Hyland, and work to ensure that every police officer in every regional force is trained in understanding the signs of modern day slavery. We are passionate about seeing this strategic model of working together replicated as more needs to be done. We want to support and work with the police in the best way we can, helping them build their capacity in order to see more victims living in freedom, holding the perpetrators to account for their actions and enabling survivors to get justice. We want to see the end of modern slavery.”
As is the case in most regions many victims can’t or won’t go to the police because they originate from countries with disreputable policing or because they’ve been instilled with a fear of the authorities by their trafficker. One of the breakthrough moments for the West Yorkshire police force and part of the reason they have seen an increase in their referrals, was when the Police & Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, Mark Burns-Williamson decided to invite Hope for Justice to provide specialist training to frontline officers to spot the signs of human trafficking and facilitate the West Yorkshire Modern Slavery and Anti-trafficking Network.
The success of the Network has come to the attention of Kevin Hyland, the UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, who stated that, “West Yorkshire is taking the issue to its heart and putting it as a priority. This is something that other regions must follow.”
In 2014 Hope for Justice launched their second hub in the West Midlands to replicate the West Yorkshire model. As a result of working in partnership with the West Midlands Police, within a year, the recorded figure for identifications increased by 127% in the West Midlands Police region *2, proving that the model set in West Yorkshire works and is able to be replicated nationally.
The charity’s call to action today is one they hope will encourage and inspire more regional police forces to consider partnering with them and other leading charities to eradicate modern day slavery in this country, as they look to achieve the bold objective Theresa May has set out.
Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, Devon and Cornwall Police, National Police Lead for Modern Slavery says, “Hope for Justice is among those organisations taking the lead in addressing the issue of modern day slavery in today’s Great Britain. Their organisation is the only NGO working from the point of rescue right through to advocacy.”
For further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Andi Russell via email:
firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: +44 (0)7946 539571. For further information about Hope for Justice please visit: www.hopeforjustice.org or follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/hopeforjustice and Twitter: www.twitter.com/hopeforjustice
Notes to Editors:
* 1 Source: NCA Strategic Assessment: The Nature and Scale of Human Trafficking in 2013′ (UKHTC) and ‘National Referral Mechanism Statistics; End of Year Summary 2015’ (UKHTC)
* 2 Source: ‘NCA Strategic Assessment: The Nature and Scale of Human Trafficking in 2013’ (UKHTC) and ‘National Referral Mechanism Statistics; End of Year Summary 2015’ (UKHTC)
Hope for Justice exists to end human trafficking and slavery, in our generation. We identify and rescue victims, advocate on their behalf, provide restorative care which rebuilds lives and train frontline professionals to tackle slavery. Our expert team of specialists provide training for front-line professionals, identification and rescue of victims, and advocacy and restoration to help victims become survivors and then ‘over-comers’ with a renewed sense of hope and purpose for their future.