With more slaves worldwide today than in any other time in history, Bedfordshire Police, together with Bedfordshire against Modern Slavery (BAMS) and Soroptimist International, is taking action.
Ahead of anti-slavery day on Sunday (October 18) they are bringing together practitioners from a range of services such as safeguarding boards, local authorities, education, social and health care, housing, and the voluntary sector at a conference, as part of a co-ordinated national drive to promote the fight against modern slavery.
Held at Moggerhanger Parker, home of the slavery exhibition Freed At Last and the Human Trafficking Foundation’s display named ‘Modern Slavery’, the conference today (Friday) aims to share current knowledge and identify the key issues facing those subject to modern slavery in Bedfordshire.
Det Chief Insp David Cestaro, force lead for human trafficking at Bedfordshire Police, said: “The conference aims to raise awareness by providing training to front-line workers across the county so that they are more confident in identifying signs of modern slavery and reporting suspicions.
“There is the risk that victims will be treated as criminals. We urge everyone to think beyond the surface of rough sleepers, beggars or those involved in petty criminality and ask themselves if they exhibit indicators of someone being exploited. It is so important to raise awareness and the profile of human trafficking in our communities. If we can spot the signs then together we can end human trafficking.
“Modern slavery is a real and increasing problem and men, women and children are subject to this abuse in our county. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and we, along with partners, are dedicated to strengthening education in the county and building confidence, increasing the priority across the county on this issue.”
The event hosts a range of speakers who share a passion for the fight against human trafficking, including the UK’s first Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland who has set out his plan of action this week. Prisons Minister and local MP Andrew Selous, the High Sherriff of Bedfordshire, Lady Isabelle Erroll, and advocates from the National Crime Agency, the Salvation Army and the Human Trafficking Foundation will also address delegates.