PCC urges people with suspicions around human trafficking to call national Modern Slavery helpline (28 July 2017)

Helpline _A4_Poster _v3A helpline designed to help victims of trafficking has been supported by West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Mark Burns-Williamson.

Mr Burns Williamson is promoting the helpline across West Yorkshire and is urging anyone with suspicions about someone they know being exploited or trafficked to call the UK Modern Slavery helpline on 0800 0121 700.

Launched in 2016, the helpline has so far received 1,799 calls and made 1,051 referrals with more than 2,000 potential modern slavery victims indicated.

A campaign to raise awareness of the helpline across West Yorkshire by the Police and Crime Commissioner has been launched to coincide with the UN World Day against Trafficking in Persons on July 30.

Mr Burns-Williamson, who also chairs the National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network, (NATMSN) which met in July to discuss best practice with fellow PCCs and other stakeholders, urged anyone with concerns to make use of the dedicated helpline.

"West Yorkshire has already led the way nationally in tackling human trafficking and modern day slavery with the launch of the NATMSN and promoting the helpline is another important part of this," he said.

"The helpline operates 24/7 with fully trained specialist staff who provide bespoke support as well as gathering information and intelligence on modern slavery/human trafficking. Raising awareness of it across West Yorkshire is vital so people with concerns know where they can go for specialist advice and to report concerns they may have.

"General indicators can include signs of physical or psychological abuse, fear of authorities, no ID documents, poor living conditions and working long hours for little or no pay."

Posters and other materials such as information cards will be distributed to neighbourhood policing teams and the 5 district human trafficking and modern slavery forums and networks recently established across West Yorkshire to highlight the need for people to contact the helpline on a 24/7 basis.

Mr Burns-Williamson added: "Human trafficking and modern day slavery is a significant threat both within West Yorkshire and nationally linked to many other forms of crime. If we are to truly understand the nature and scale of this threat and respond effectively, law enforcement, statutory and non-statutory front line agencies, third sector organisations and all communities across the UK must contribute to building a clear intelligence picture to respond effectively and consistently.

"That includes working in partnership with the UK Modern Slavery helpline to ensure people, including those being exploited in this awful way, are aware of its existence and know where they can go with concerns."

Justine Currell, Executive Director of the not for profit organisation Unseen, who operate the helpline, said: "The helpline is a lifeline for those seeking help, advice and support as a result of an exploitative situation. Our collaboration with a wide range of partners, including West Yorkshire Police, is key to safeguarding individuals and preventing more people from being exploited."

Assistant Chief Constable Russ Foster of West Yorkshire Police, said: "Human trafficking is an abhorrent crime which has no place in 21st century Britain. The crime is akin to an individual taking over another person's life."

"We are doing everything we can as a police force to rescue victims and bring the perpetrators to justice but we are only one piece in this fight. It is vital we work together with other organisations to help those most in need and the UK Modern Slavery helpline is an important way for victims or those who think they know someone being trafficked to let us know what is happening."

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2017