Following the Diocesan conference on modern slavery in September 2015, a group of concerned parishioners from the Thames Valley area (from 4 different parishes in Bracknell, Reading and Maidenhead) asked for a meeting with Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld.
The meeting, which took place at the end of January, was also attended by Detective Chief Inspector Philip Standish and Policy Development Officer Aaron Blessing.
It offered an opportunity to discuss the issue of modern slavery within the Thames Valley, the importance of raising awareness of this hidden crime among the general public and the crucial role that faith communities (and particularly the very ethnically diverse Catholic communities) can play in this.
Speaking on Anti Slavery Day 2015, Mr Stansfeld said: “We know there are many hidden victims of modern slavery in the Thames Valley and it is important we raise awareness of the issue to both identify victims and effectively tackle this awful crime.”
“It is also crucial we provide support to the victims and help them recover from the trauma caused.”
Types of modern slavery include child trafficking, forced labour, debt bondage, sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation and domestic servitude.
Caritas Portsmouth has recently produced useful leaflets and wallet cards that could be made available in parishes as a first step in raising awareness of the issue. For those willing to go deeper, there are also 3 downloadable study sessions which can be used at any time of the year. All materials can be downloaded from this page.
Mr Stansfeld welcomed the approach as Thames Valley Police are keen to make contact with faith groups and to raise awareness of this horrendous crime.
Following this meeting The Thames Valley Police sent the following information (reproduced with permission).
DCI Phil Standish has asked me to forward to you some information with regard to recent examples of success in intervention, investigation and safeguarding of victims in the Thames Valley area.
A large investigation into Forced Labour within the Vietnamese community where persons were being forced to work in Nail Bars. Several persons were removed from the property and safeguarded. 3 offenders were charged and later found guilty of immigration offences.
This was a multi-agency investigation and operation into a fruit farm in Berkshire where concerns were raised over the employment of Ugandans on charity visas. Visits were completed together with other key Government bodies, together with the Gang masters licensing authority at properties across the UK.
A large scale investigation led to the conviction of Timothy Joyce – who was convicted of offences relating to compulsory labour and servitude.
Other good practice:
Ongoing work continues with NGO’s and homeless shelters in Oxford – which has been identified as instrumental in vulnerable persons being approached and targeted for Forced Labour. Thames Valley Police have seen an increase in reporting of any approaches and associated intelligence regarding potential offenders.
Work continues to develop partnership arrangements such as joint working with a trafficking NGO in Reading to protect and safeguard victims of trafficking that require intervention either through a charity, the NRM or law enforcement. This work with has already led to several people being submitted into the NRM and criminal investigations being initiated.
TVP have been delivering training packages with the Accident and Emergency department staff to highlight indicators and precursor incidents relating to trafficking victims and what action/processes then need to be taken. This is to help in developing confidence with both partners and victims and to be able to assist in promoting our joint abilities in identifying victims prior to any reports being made and looking for opportunities to safeguard. It has also encouraged a closer working relationship between the police and NHS staff.
Contact for Force Intelligence Detective Inspectors
- North Buckinghamshire –email@example.com
- South Buckinghamshire –firstname.lastname@example.org (Dom has recently left the team but can still answer any specific questions or sign post any local concerns)
- Oxfordshire – email@example.com
- Berkshire West – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Berkshire East – email@example.com
Many thanks and my contact details as below,
Phil Standish|DCI Force Intelligence Hubs|Force Intelligence and Specialist Operations|M: 07812 029518|E: firstname.lastname@example.org