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1 August 2019, 07:29 | Updated: 1 August 2019, 07:31
More than 450 safeguarding professionals from across Northamptonshire have received training and advice about how to spot the signs of modern slavery and vulnerability, gang involvement, county lines, child sexual abuse and criminal exploitation, during a week-long series of events in Corby and Northampton.
Modern slavery is a ruthless crime in which victims are treated as commodities and exploited for criminal gain. At the events last week, partnership agencies including health, education, social care and support services were in attendance, supporting the response to the key issues this county faces. They were given information about the signs of vulnerability to look out for and learning from local cases was shared. Those present were made aware they all have a vital part to play in tackling the problem and in safeguarding the most vulnerable.
The true extent of modern slavery in the UK is unknown but it is estimated there are around 36 million victims of slavery worldwide and at least 13,000 in the UK.
Detective Chief Inspector Lee McBride, who is the force lead for serious organised crime and presented at all of the events, said: “Modern slavery is happening in this county right now and we all need to be better at spotting the signs and addressing the root causes in order to tackle it. The key to this is awareness raising. The professionals who attended the events are all in a unique position to help safeguard the most vulnerable in our communities who they may come into contact with in their field of work. Information packs were given to all attendees and these included a responder’s pocket guide which was produced to support and reinforce potential warning signs so they know when to report intelligence and make a difference to those who are being exploited.
“Perpetrators target those who are already vulnerable, whether fleeing other dangerous or exploitative situations, suffering with mental health issues or perhaps homeless. Victims come from all walks of life and include all nationalities. They are often frightened and, due to their experiences, may be distrustful of police and those in authority. We all have a part to play in tackling this appalling crime and that is what the training events were all about – to ensure professionals from agencies across the county know how to spot signs of vulnerability or exploitation and to ensure they have the tools they need to make a referral if they do.”
Northamptonshire Police Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold said: “Slavery is illegal in almost every country in the world yet it is a real and growing issue for us in this country. I am very grateful to all the agencies who took part in this training programme and equipped their staff to become the eyes and ears of Northamptonshire Police in cracking down on this crime.”
Councillor Anna King, Northampton Borough Council Cabinet member for community engagement and safety, said: “Investing in staff training and public awareness is paramount to tackling modern slavery, therefore we were pleased to be asked to support the organisation of this county wide training.
“We will continue to work in partnership with Northamptonshire Police as part of our commitment to building safer, resilient communities in the town.”