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Modern slavery is always closer than we think

Posted: Tuesday 3rd April 2018
Blog: April

Last week the National Crime Agency announced a worrying surge in modern slavery cases nationwide with more than 25 victims identified within Avon and Somerset alone. The news follows last autumn’s nail varnish campaign which highlighted the troubling issue of modern slavery going on in nail bars, literally under our noses. The report shows that we are moving in the right direction and victims are becoming more confident to report however one victim of modern slavery is too many.

Sadly, modern slavery often occurs in everyday situations, it’s an unseen crime, happening in everyday places like nail bars, car washes, brothels, restaurants and farms across the UK.   Some victims of modern slavery are lured to the UK with promises of a better life, only to find themselves so heavily indebted to those who transport them that they have to work for their traffickers for nothing.  Vulnerable people, particularly the homeless and young people in care, can also find themselves being trafficked within Britain, either for forced labour, or, in so-called “grooming” cases, for sexual abuse.

I support the work of Bristol charity Unseen UK and firmly believe that modern slavery cannot be tackled in isolation, which is why we all have a role to play in being a louder voice for those who are trafficked and exploited. Anyone can spot the signs of slavery and can report them to the Modern Slavery Helpline 24-hours a day on 08000 121 700.

An independent report into the emergency service response to the Ariana Grande Manchester Arena attack made sobering reading last week. In the aftermath of the terror attack which targeted concert-goers many of which were children, there were many accounts of those who acted selflessly and a lot to praise for our emergency services; however Lord Kerslake highlights some fundamental recommendations that need to be acted on.

I do hope that the Home Office take Vodafone to task over their inability to deliver the national mutual aid telephony service. I’ve heard first-hand from victims, particularly Julie Nicholson, whose daughter died in the 7/7 bombings and she has always stressed that communication for families is key in the aftermath of any terrorist incident. This failure caused significant stress and upset on the night to all victims and their families.

I am sure many local people were also be appalled by the response of some of the so-called journalists in the aftermath of the arena attack. The account from families in the Kerslake report makes bleak reading and the tactics that were undertaken to hound victims was nothing but shameful. All Police and Crime Commissioner’s should be grateful for Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham shining a light on the learning from the horrific Manchester Arena attack to ensure that poor communication and poor procedures are not repeated. The police need to work closely with the other emergency services and I hope the Home Office consider national guidance over responding to further attacks.

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