Lichfield and Burntwood delegates join Staffordshire’s modern slavery conference

Delegates from Lichfield and Burntwood have joined Staffordshire’s first ever conference highlighting the hidden threat of modern slavery.

The half-day event was hosted by Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis and was attended by businesses, charities and public sector workers.

The modern slavery conference being held in Staffordshire

The modern slavery conference being held in Staffordshire

Chief Constable Jane Sawyers told the conference there had been a report of modern day slavery or human trafficking in every one of the Local Policing Team areas in Staffordshire – including Lichfield district – in the last 12 months.

Commissioner Ellis added: “Modern slavery is an abhorrent crime which is often hidden in plain sight. It’s happening across the UK and it’s happening in Staffordshire, although we do not know the scale, big or small, of it here.

“It’s important that we understand that fact as soon as possible and work is going on to make sure that happens.

“It’s extraordinary that in 2015 we are still talking about something that also happened hundreds of years ago. This is a modern outrage.”

The conference heard how modern slavery can take many forms, including the trafficking of people, forced labour, servitude and slavery. Figures sugged around two-thirds of victims are women, while every fourth victim of modern slavery is a child.

Ch Cons Sawyers said there had been 86 reports of potential modern day slavery or human trafficking in Staffordshire in the 12 months since October 2014. Analysis showed there were 55 cases that needed further investigation.

“It’s a hidden crime – those are the ones we know about,” she told the conference.

“We are constantly learning more about modern slavery and it’s clear that there are people in Staffordshire being abused and exploited. However, we receive only a handful of reports each year.

“This event has helped us all to be more aware of this crime which goes on often unseen and certainly misunderstood.

“We all have a duty to tackle exploitation in any form so we can provide the support for the victims and bring offenders to justice.”

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