Modern Slavery in North Wales and Beyond…
When the word ‘slavery’ is mentioned it brings up many different images – often back to the 1800s in the fields of North America or the sugar plantations of the West Indies. People such as William Wilberforce come to mind, and his fight to abolish the slave trade, which took over twenty years, leading to the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833. He saw man’s inhumanity to man for himself and made a decision to work for change. While raising awareness about the horrific realities of slavery he said “ You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know”.
Although the Act made slavery illegal, it did not stop it! Slavery is happening today … human beings are being bought and sold as commodities. It is estimated that there are over 20 million enslaved people in the world today and over 13,000 in the UK. Many of these vulnerable individuals are brought into the country by criminals to be used and abused, while some are British nationals who have found themselves trapped in exploitation.
Modern Slavery / Human Trafficking is happening in North Wales. There have been incidents of domestic servitude, sexual, labour and criminal exploitation recorded here in recent years. Men, women and children have been identified as victims and rescued from terrible situations. In 2013 the North Wales Anti-Slavery Project began, and was funded by the Welsh Assembly Government through local statutory agencies. A huge amount of work has been done in awareness raising and training for public servants, community groups and other partners, and over 4000 people have attended sessions to learn about the realities of modern slavery today, the signs and indicators and what to do about it. As the North Wales Anti-Slavery Coordinator, and with over 30 years experience serving in North Wales Police, Jim Coy has brought a great deal of insight and expertise to the work.
The strategy of the project has 4 main aims : awareness raising, prevention, survivor support and investigation. This work will continue despite the fact that funding was not made available to keep the Coordinator. The charity partners in North Wales such as Transform, BAWSO and British Red Cross will continue to support North Wales Police in this fight to rescue vulnerable and abused individuals and bring criminals to justice. The UK passed the Modern Slavery Act in 2015, bringing into post an ‘Anti-Slavery Commissioner’ (Mr Kevin Hyland), and we continue the work in line with his plan.
In North Wales, we have developed a very robust foundation for the work, with a ‘multi-victim contingency plan’ that has been tried and tested … during an operation to rescue 111 migrant workers in March 2015, and a reception centre model and strategy for an effective response to incidents that arise, where the survivors (victims) are treated with respect and care as a priority while law enforcement agents deal with the perpetrators. We also have a ‘survivor care pathway’ in place and excellent working relationships with partner agencies, to make sure that survivors are kept in a place of safety, where they can begin to recover from the abuse and trauma that they have experienced.
The fight against this crime must continue! In North Wales the risk areas include Holyhead Port and the major roads, nail bars, hand car washes, fast food outlets etc. Domestic servitude is a difficult area to discover as usually an individual is kept hidden away in a home doing all the cleaning, cooking or even caring for young children, with no pay or access to services. Online grooming is a serious issue also and it is important that our young people are taught about the risks.
How can you help? It is really important that everyone is aware of the reality of modern slavery, and report any suspicious incidents to the police or crimestoppers immediately.
This is a hidden crime that is happening all over the world, but with the help of fellow compassionate human beings we can make a difference and reach out to those who need our help!
“It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name — modern slavery.” President B. Obama
For more information about the signs and indictors please refer to www.modernslavery.co.uk or contact firstname.lastname@example.org