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5 March 2015, 07:46
A special conference is being held in Norfolk calling for a stop to Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery.
It's being hosted by Norfolk Police and is aiming to increase awareness of Human Trafficking and how to spot the signs of Slavery.
It will hear from various partner agencies, including Migrant Help, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, the Great Yarmouth Refugees Outreach Support, the Magdalene Group and Hope For Justice.
Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Hamlin said: "Modern Slavery is a reality and happens everywhere, even in rural Norfolk. It’s an abuse of Human Rights and effects society’s most vulnerable men, women and children.
"It is vital that Norfolk Constabulary works together with our partners and external organisations to identify and support victims. We all have a role to play in helping these individuals who are being exploited by organised criminals.”
Antonia Litten, Norfolk Constabulary’s Human Trafficking Co-ordinator, said: "This event is geared at ensuring we are all working towards a co-ordinated approach to help identify more victims of Human Trafficking and give them the opportunity to reach out for help and support to break free from Slavery.
"We do not know the scale of the problem here in Norfolk but what we do know is that Norfolk’s not immune to Slavery. It is important people understand what Modern Slavery is and how to spot the signs.”
Human Trafficking is the second most profitable criminal enterprise worldwide, surpassed only by the illicit drugs industry.
Organised criminals prey on vulnerable people to make money, offering them false promises, a fresh start in a new city, town or country, a rosy picture of a better life, a good job, educational opportunity or marriage.
However, once the victim reaches their destination their passport and identification are taken by their traffickers and they are stripped of their freedom.
They are given terrible living conditions and the traffickers take control of their bank accounts and wages. The victims are then forced to work and given as little as 80 pence an hour whilst the trafficker holds on to the rest.
Antonia Litten added: "Very often the victims live in fear and are too frightened or unwilling to come forward but this has to stop. We need to open people’s eyes to the Slavery all around them and encourage victims to speak out. They need to know that they have the support of Norfolk Constabulary and our partner agencies and by working together we can help free them of this atrocious crime.”
There are an estimated 10,000 to 13,000 victims of Slavery in the UK today.
Modern Slavery is on the increase. According to the National Crime Agency, 2,340 potential victims were identified and referred to them in the UK in 2014, a 34 per cent rise from 2013.
The Modern Slavery Bill, which proposes to increase the maximum custodial sentence for Human Traffickers from 14 years to life, is expected to receive Royal Assent before May.