A pioneering pledge to help end modern slavery and human trafficking and raise awareness locally of a ‘hidden crime’ has been endorsed by all of our 39 members.
The motion, the first of its kind to be endorsed by a local authority in Hertfordshire, commits the council to work towards eradicating a crime, described recently by Prime Minister Theresa May, as ‘the great human rights issue of our time’. Around 13,000 people are thought to be victims of trafficking and slavery in the UK, however exact figures are not known because many crimes remain undetected. In Hertfordshire last year, the police reported 26 cases of modern slavery. This year alone, it has reported 37 - that number is expected to rise.
As part of the motion, proposed by Councillor Meenal Sachdev and backed at a full council meeting yesterday (Wednesday 12 June), members agreed to raise awareness of the issue; engage with and support multi-agency action and take steps towards improving transparency in supply chains. Many council staff have already received training on how to identify victims of modern slavery and how to get help, from Hertfordshire Police’s anti-trafficking team, Operation Tropic.
Councillor Morris Bright, Leader of the council, who seconded the motion, said: “Modern slavery and human trafficking is a brutal crime, and often victims are subjected to a horrific level of abuse and exploitation.
“Unfortunately, we just don’t know how many people in our borough could be affected, as victims are among the most vulnerable members in society and can feel too intimidated, too scared or are just too worn down to act.
“That’s why it’s vital that we all know the signs that someone could be affected and what to do to get them immediate care and support, so that they can begin to put their lives back together.
“This motion backed by councillors yesterday is an important first step and I’m grateful to Cllr Sachdev for shining a spotlight on this important issue.”
Councillor Michelle Vince, Leader of the Opposition, said: “Slavery can take many different forms, and it’s terrifying to think it could be happening near you or in a place you visit.
“However, the chances are during the course of your day you will come across someone who has been trafficked and/or is being exploited in some way. They could be working at a building site or helping to wash your car, or they could be the person doing your manicure at a nail salon.
“It’s vital the council works with local agencies, businesses and members of the public to end this terrible crime and help victims get back on their feet.”
Next month, community awareness raising events will be held in locations around the borough. Council staff and members of Operation Tropic will be handing out information and answering questions from 11am until 2pm outside Café Nero in Potters Bar on Thursday 17 August; in Bushey High Street on Friday 18 August; in Borehamwood at a location to be confirmed on Tuesday 22 August and in Radlett High Street on Wednesday 23 August.
For more information visit here.
Posted on Thursday 13th July 2017