Posted on Monday 22nd May

Cheshire Police and partners are joining together to outline their vision to prevent modern slavery across the county and provide greater protection and support to victims.

A conference is taking place today, (Monday, 22 May) to share current thinking, raise awareness and develop a collaborative approach to addressing this unacceptable and growing crime.

Police and partners (Cheshire East Council, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Warrington Borough Council and Halton Borough Council) are working together to identify, prevent, disrupt and stop modern slavery. During the day, a number of experts will talk about the issue and there will be the opportunity to take part in practical workshops.

Partners attending the conference include Cheshire East Council, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Halton Borough Council and Warrington Borough Council.

Chief Constable Simon Byrne, of Cheshire Constabulary, said: “Today is a great opportunity for us all to come together to discuss these important issues to find ways to help protect and support some of the most vulnerable people in Cheshire.

“It is a sad fact of life that modern slavery is happening today, in our communities, often hidden away behind closed doors.

“Although action is already being taken by officers and partners to locate victims and trace offenders, there is always so much more that can be done and working together jointly helps play an important part in making sure we achieve this."

Modern slavery stems from organised crime and targets some of the most vulnerable people in our society. It is largely a hidden crime coercing adults and children into a range of exploitation including trafficking, forced labour, child slavery and domestic servitude. It is unrestricted by age, gender or background.

Police and partner agencies will help deliver the two year action plan to highlight the issue in Cheshire.

Work will be carried out collectively and collaboratively between all agencies to deliver four priorities. This will involve it being essential for people across the public sector to recognise that protecting people from slavery and exploitation is everybody’s responsibility. Authorities also want to create a system which enables an effective but sustainable support for everyone affected and understanding the long term risks associated with them. Police and partners will ensure offenders are held to account and promote appropriate prosecutions.

It is not just about educating police and partners on how to understand the impact modern slavery has on victims, how to recognise the signs of someone who is a victim and what people can do when they see them recognise but it is also important local communities understand it too.

Cheshire Police & Crime Commissoner, David Keane: “We are delighted to be hosting our partners today at this extremely important conference. Modern slavery is a real and devastating crime, and often victims are hidden in plain sight. One of my policing priorities is to ‘support victims and protect the vulnerable’ and I fully endorse this kind of joined-up, multi-service approach which is so valuable in terms of eradicating this terrible issue.”

Officers and partners continue to work together carrying out targeted operations across the county with a number of victims and potential offenders being identified.

David Parr, Chief Executive Halton Council and Chair of the Pan Cheshire protecting Vulnerable People Board, added: “Across the region, we recognise the reality that trafficking, slavery and exploitation is not a problem of the past. It is happening right here, right now - and we will not tolerate it. The time has come for concerted, co-ordinated action to ensure that children and adults are protected.

“The purpose of this conference and the developing strategy that we are launching today is to set out our strategic approach and how we intend to continue to develop the good work already happening locally.

“Aligning with our Police and Crime Plan 2016-21, it will help us to work collectively and collaboratively to prevent, identify, disrupt, stop and eradicate modern slavery in all its forms, and will result in our boroughs being an even safer and happier place to live.”

If anybody suspects or has any information of crimes relating to modern slavery they are urged to report it to Cheshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555 111.

People can also call the national modern slavery helpline on 0800 0121 700.