Action needed to stop abhorrent exploitation of victims, in Sheffield and everywhere.....

As part of my work in Equalities and Human Rights, I am party to monitoring and other activity combating human trafficking and modern-day slavery, and have regularly engaged with successive Children’s Commissioners and others in this regard, as all ages can be victims of this abhorrent exploitation.

Thursday, 18th July 2019, 11:33 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th August 2019, 15:01 pm
Artwork by Molly Meleady-Hanley, 15

Sadly, here in Sheffield and South Yorkshire we are not immune from the dreadful exploitation of vulnerable human beings, and everyone must be vigilant and party to exposing it, challenging and eliminating it at every opportunity (writes Chrissy Meleady).

As Sheffield Newspapers recently pointed out, it was the case that in 2018, South Yorkshire Police carried out 70 investigations into slavery, 41 of which had concluded by the time data was released.

Of those, none resulted in charges being brought, and between March 2015 and December 2018, South Yorkshire Police recorded 216 modern slavery cases, according to Home Office data.

These numbers are not reflective of those whom to date have not been emancipated from human trafficking and exploitation in our area, but who continue to suffer, with others joining them in this evil exploitation of human beings, including children.

I have been obliged over years to make representation to authorities and Government about a lack of resourcing of work undertaken by the Police, Social Care, and third sector agencies.

“This included lodging formal concern at the aftercare for those emancipated from human trafficking and modern day slavery, as failings in this regard put very vulnerable people at risk, and was harmful to their overall wellbeing, recovery and ability, and opportunities to attain better lives which every one of them is deserving of and entitled to.

Failings in Government investment and support to victims has also hindered investigations and resultant prosecutions. On all fronts, this cannot be allowed to continue. Government must review its position and allocate funding and other resources to this vital work.

There should be no need to have to compel them to do so, as it should always have been a moral imperative.

In recent times the Home Office has been obliged to concede that yet another tentacle of its hostile environment policy is unlawful.

This time it is in regard to its policy to limit support provided to victims of trafficking and slavery.

This admission came as a result of two trafficking victims bringing a legal case against the Home Office, which challenged Government policy on limiting support and assistance to this very vulnerable grouping.

Victims of human trafficking and modern-day slavery have been threatened with having support taken from them or reduced.

One victim was trafficked to the UK from Vietnam to cultivate cannabis, while a second was trafficked from Albania and subjected to sexual exploitation.

Both victims were terrified and traumatised and were recipients of support with orientation and trauma.

On being recognised officially by Government as being victims of human trafficking, they were issued with an official notice that the support they relied upon would be stopped by Government in 45 days, in line with Government policy.

The 45 day limit was found to be arbitrary and not in any way based upon individual needs nor circumstances.

Article 12 of the Trafficking Convention provides that support measures are required to assist victims in their physical, psychological and social recovery.

This support is immensely important to victims of trafficking and slavery, who often have intensive therapeutic and support needs stemming from their traumatising experiences.

Many victims have severe mental health issues and find it very difficult to go about day-to-day lives. For these victims, recovery cannot be set on a strict time frame and loss of support can lead to deterioration in mental and physical health, destitution and an increased risk of re-exploitation by human traffickers and modern-day slavers.

We welcome the partnership established to tackle modern slavery and people trafficking in South Yorkshire with the county’s four district councils and charities that safeguard survivors and victims, as the South Yorkshire Modern Slavery Partnership, which should go some way to securing necessary support for victims in our area. We welcome too, having specialist officers working alongside this to disrupt human trafficking and modern-day slavery which is an illegal activity. The intervention of Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings, is also to be welcomed and commended.

and South Yorkshire should be commended for its intent to lead the way in this regard.