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Council secures funding to support victims of modern day slavery

Would you know how to spot a victim of human trafficking or the signs of modern day slavery? Are you aware such exploitation is happening in Fenland each and every day?

Modern Day Slavery

The scourge is right under our noses in shops, fields, factories, building sites and behind the curtains of houses, but the crime is often invisible and difficult to detect.

Now Fenland District Council is set to launch a new government-funded project to raise awareness of modern day slavery, its victims and devastating effects, to help identify, support and save victims from its abuse.

The project, funded with a £136,000 grant from the Department for Communities and Local Government's Controlling Migration Fund (CMF), will build on work already undertaken in Fenland to fight the issue.

Initiatives such as Operation Pheasant, a multi-agency task force launched in 2012, have seen successes in tackling rogue landlords, illegal gangmasters, organised crime groups and housing condition issues in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). Almost 80 cases of human trafficking have been identified through Operation Pheasant to date, along with other forms of modern day slavery including sham marriages, prostitution and slave labour.

Working alongside such enforcement initiatives, the new project will focus on how to identify potential victims and support them to break the slavery cycle.

The Council will be working in partnership with the Rosmini Centre in Wisbech, which has more than 4,000 migrant workers on its database. The centre engaged with 1,549 new migrant workers in 2016-2017, with around 11% of those being victims of exploitation and in need of help and support.

A media campaign will be launched as part of the project to make more people aware of the issue and how they can spot victims. There will also be awareness training with statutory and voluntary groups in the area, and the creation of two support worker posts at the Rosmini Centre to help victims and work with partners.

Councillor Mike Cornwell, Fenland District Council's Portfolio Holder for Communities, said: "Most people don't even believe human trafficking is happening in this country. The longer this misconception lives on, the harder it is to address it.

"We must raise the profile of this issue within the district so people know the signs of modern slavery and report it wherever they suspect it, but also so victims can be identified and given the help and support they need."

Article added: August 14, 2017