Statement on today's human trafficking sentence (12 Feb 2016)

West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns-Williamson, said: "This case demonstrates the exceptional and ground breaking work being undertaken by West Yorkshire Police (WYP), the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and our partners to unearth and catch the perpetrators of human trafficking offences and to help rescue and protect often unwitting and very vulnerable victims.

"The sentence handed out to Mohammed Rafiq shows that the courts are taking this sort of exploitation activity seriously and also highlights how West Yorkshire is leading the way in the fight against modern slavery and human trafficking through our proactive strategy put in place nearly two years ago.

"While Rafiq was initially charged a while ago the establishment of the dedicated WYP Human Trafficking Unit, and the investment into that unit, as well as the West Yorkshire Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network, and now the National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network ensures that perpetrators have no place to hide.

"We have built on the work carried out as part of this investigation to ensure that the resources and skills are in place to facilitate the investigation of human trafficking across West Yorkshire and beyond with the introduction of the regional and new national network.

"It is widely accepted that human trafficking and modern day slavery still largely remains a hidden crime which is why I identified the need to create more regional and national joined up working to raise awareness and share good practice throughout the UK with other PCCs, Forces and many other agencies.

"Training with front line officers and staff around human trafficking and modern day slavery has also created an increased understanding of the signs of this crime and its implications. There is much more we need to do and this dedicated response unit is a key part of that, as it is targeting those perpetrators and their networks that are ruining people's lives with this awful crime of human misery which is increasingly organised in many cases.

"They need to know they have no place to hide, and victims need to know that in West Yorkshire the resources and support are in place to protect them and to deal with cases such as these. I would also urge anyone with suspicions of human trafficking activity taking place in their community or workplace to contact the police with their concerns no matter how it may seem."

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019