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In the last year 49* Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking offences were reported in West Mercia, with this number expected to increase by around 20% in the coming year.

The West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner and West Mercia Police have reaffirmed their commitment to victims and are bringing together key professionals to take action.

The Commissioner, West Mercia Police and the National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network have invested in a conference which brings together community safety partnerships, health, education, social services, youth offending services, housing, voluntary sector and more, to not only raise awareness and map current activity, but to provide opportunities to share best practice leading to local action.

At this event partners will be encouraged to pledge to do everything in their power to keep West Mercia safe from modern slavery and human trafficking.

Prior to the conference, an event will also be held for frontline West Mercia Police Officers and Staff ensuring they are also equipped with the knowledge and confidence to identify and support victims.

Commissioner John Campion said “I have shown my commitment to victims of modern slavery and human trafficking by bringing professionals together, ensuring police have the resources to tackle emerging crime types like this and through my investment in specialist victim services. We must all work together, to stop this from being a hidden crime. The more eyes and ears we can have in our communities, the more victims we can help.”

West Mercia Police, Assistant Chief Constable Martin Evans said “Modern slavery is a serious and brutal crime in which people are treated as commodities and exploited for criminal gain. Although the true extent of modern slavery in the UK is unknown it is encouraging that the number of modern slavery and human trafficking policing operations is increasing locally and nationally.

By improving the identification of and response to modern slavery and human trafficking by frontline officers, staff and partner agencies, through specialist training, we hope to protect more people from harm – often the most vulnerable in our society. “

Chair of the National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network, West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns-Williamson OBE said: “I really welcome this event in West Mercia which brings together individuals that play a key role in making a tangible difference to people’s lives when it comes to this horrendous abuse and activity.

“It offers a great opportunity to tap into the knowledge of experts in the field and talk in greater depth about what more can be done at a local and regional level.

“It all helps to inform the national debate on these themes, particularly through the portfolio I hold around Modern Day Slavery and Human Trafficking.

“By having these conversations and sharing the feedback, it can only serve to focus efforts around prevention of these human rights abuses, whilst supporting victims and survivors, as well as disrupting and helping bring offenders to justice.”

Follow the conference on Twitter and Facebook: @WestMerciaPCC #ModernSlavery

*Figures cover modern slavery and human trafficking offences reported in the year to June 2018 in West Mercia

The conference taking place in Worcester on Wednesday 13th February is jointly funded between the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner, West Mercia Police and the National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network.

Modern slavery includes human trafficking, slavery, servitude and forced and compulsory labour. Exploitation takes a number of forms, including sexual exploitation, forced labour, forced criminality and domestic servitude – victims come from all walks of life.

Issued: Wednesday 13th February 2019