Organisations from across teh county today launched a joint pledge to make Nottinghamshire free of modern slavery on what is national anti-slavery day.
The joint commitment was made by Nottinghamshire Councils, businesses, churches, charities and the Police aims to raise awareness of modern slavery and eradicate it in Nottinghamshire.
The pledge will be officially launched at a media event later today at Hammond Farm, a local farming business who has joined the pledge to do more to prevent modern slavery after one of their employees was a victim of exploitation.
Nearly 4,000 victims are identified as potential victims of modern slavery in the UK each year. The Home Office estimates the number of slaves in the UK at 13,000 and new global figures launched by the United Nations put the number at 40.3 million slaves worldwide. In Nottinghamshire there have been a number of high profile prosecutions of groups who have been exploiting vulnerable people but more needs to be done to end modern slavery.
The campaign will ask the public to be alert to signs of modern slavery, to report anything they think is suspicious and for businesses to do more to raise awareness of modern slavery and to know more about where their employees come from as well as the materials for their production lines. The Modern Slavery Helpline has also been set up for the public to call if they see anything suspicious, the dedicated number is 08000 121 700.
The Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham has been examining how communities can become slavery free, as part of a five-year commitment to delivering world-leading research that helps to end global slavery by 2030.
The Bishop of Nottingham, Paul Williams has backed the campaign along with The Salvation Army who have launched their own appeal to spot the signs of modern slavery, a crime that can be hidden in plain sight.
Vernon Coaker MP for Gedling is also raising the issue of modern slavery on a national level as the new co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery.
He said: “It is good to see local initiatives supporting the national effort to tackle these crimes. A lot of progress has been made but more needs to be done, in particular to support the victims of trafficking. There is a need for us to consider how to best support victims and prevent them from being re-trafficked. It is also important for us to remember that people are trafficked not only for sexual exploitation but also for their labour.”
Bishop Paul Williams said: “It is deeply shocking that in the 21st Century millions of people around the world are still pressed into the horrors of slavery, even here on our own doorstep in Nottinghamshire.
“The knowledge that churches and faith communities have of their local neighbourhoods means that if we come into contact with victims it is vital that we are able to recognise the signs and know what to do about it – this may be the only chance a vulnerable individual has of being rescued.
“We wholeheartedly join with our friends and local partners to work towards making our city and county free of Modern Slavery. Together we must act.”
Paddy Tipping, Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Modern slavery is not confined to any particular group or community and sadly it is much more prevalent than you might imagine.
“We need to make sure that people are aware of the signs that someone is being exploited in this way and we need to encourage them to come forward to report any suspicions that they may have. That sends the strongest message that this type of behaviour is socially unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
Chief Executive of Gedling Borough Council and chair of the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Modern Slavery partnership, John Robinson said: “Today we are launching a campaign to eradicate slavery in the region, which in 2017, nearly 200 hundred years after slavery was abolished in the British Empire, is quite extraordinary. We will commit to working closely with the Police and our local partners to raise awareness of the plight of the people affected by this and to do everything in our power to stop modern slavery happening in Nottinghamshire.”
Paul Broadbent is Chief Executive of the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), a national law enforcement and licensing agency which tackles labour exploitation.
He said: “It’s difficult to comprehend that modern slavery, forcing people to work, trading men, women and children as commodities – these practices are abhorrent yet they are happening right now in a street or community near you.
“We need people to become more aware of labour exploitation; we want them to recognise the signs so they can report any concerns to us or by using Crimestoppers or the Modern Slavery helpline.
“But it also requires action on the part of each and every one of us to ask ourselves if the goods or services we are paying for are being provided by workers who are treated fairly and legally. Modern slavery will be eradicated if we make it socially unacceptable as consumers.”