PCC Sue Mountstevens with Anti-Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland
Better support for victims of modern slavery is part of Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens’ continued commitment to tackling this hidden crime, as the country marks Anti-Slavery Day 2015 (October, 18).
Anti-Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland’s views that more needs to be done for victims of modern slavery is supported by the PCC and she recently welcomed him to Avon and Somerset to see what’s being done in the South West.
During the visit Ms Mountstevens introduced Mr Hyland to the one year pilot Modern Slavery Support Service that she has recently commissioned. The service is being provided by Unseen UK and focuses on meeting the needs of victims of modern slavery.
PCC Sue Mountstevens said: "It is hard to imagine that in this day and age slavery still exists however the sad truth is that it does. That is why it is more important than ever that we must continue to fight to eradicate human trafficking and exploitation for good. Changes in legislation regarding this crime play an incredibly important part in protecting victims and I welcomed the Modern Slavery Act 2015 earlier this year."
Last year, according to the Home Office, reports suggested there could be between 10,000 and 13,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK. The Modern Slavery Act, which was the first of its kind in Europe, came into force in July 2015 and specifically addresses slavery and trafficking in the 21st century.
Sue continued: "We’re fortunate in Avon and Somerset to have some fantastic charities, partner agencies and individuals in the Constabulary who continually work together to tackle this very serious issue. This year I included support for victims of modern slavery as part of my wider plan for victims and I was delighted to welcome the Anti-Slavery Commissioner to Avon and Somerset to find out more about this.
"I continue to explore ways to put an end to a crime which destroys lives. An anti-slavery partnership has been established in Bristol and I’ve provided funding for training and expansion of the partnership. Through my Community Action Fund I’ve also given a grant to Unchosen to fund a series of films to help raise awareness of this crime. More recently I supported Unseen’s ‘Get Seen for Unseen’ campaign."
The one year modern slavery pilot, being provided by Unseen UK, will not only deliver training to frontline organisations, but will also provide assistance in identifying potential victims of trafficking, provide direct support to potential victims and quantify levels of trafficking in the region.
Kate Garbers, Managing Director at Unseen said: "It is great that the PCC is taking trafficking and slavery seriously. It is very much a hidden crime and would be easy to ignore and brush under the carpet. By having is a part of her strategic plan and by making funding available Sue has clearly show that Avon and will not tolerate the exploitation of people in our force area."
For more information about all of the newly commissioned support services for victims in Avon and Somerset click here.
Posted on Sunday 18th October 2015