Merseyside’s Police Commissioner has united with partners to commit to a new region-wide strategy to drive forward the work to tackle Modern Slavery and exploitation in Merseyside.
The launch event brought together almost 100 key partners and agencies including frontline organisations, charity groups and local leaders, to discuss the actions set out in the delivery plan and ensure the region is united in its goal of combatting Modern Slavery.
Organisations also heard from a 21-year-old from Merseyside who will speak about his personal experiences of being groomed and exploited by a County Lines gang to sell drugs, starting from when he was just 13 years old. He talked about how the recognition of how he was a victim of Modern Slavery has enabled him to turn his life around.
Also speaking at the event was Jimmy Belmar, who works on Project Medusa from Merseyside Police as well as partners from Medaille Trust and Causeway Charity.
Project Medusa, funded by the Home Office, is a Merseyside-led initiative set up to tackle County Lines drug dealing and the criminal exploitation of young people and vulnerable adults.
Launched at the International Slavery Museum, the new Delivery Plan is the result of a major consultation which got underway at an event in October last year, during which the PCC brought more than 60 specialists together to draw on their expert advice into tackling this hidden crime and continuing to improve the response from the police and other agencies.
Focussing on redoubling the efforts to tackle the issue and improve the support provided to victims of exploitation, the new strategy will shape how all organisations across Merseyside work to tackle slavery and trafficking through a series of straightforward, achievable actions.
Each of these 16 actions will be driven forward by the Modern Slavery Network who will be responsible for ensuring progress and achieving key milestones, overseen and reviewed by the Police Commissioner’s Merseyside Strategic Policing and Partnerships Board (MSPPB).
Tackling Modern Slavery is a priority for the Police Commissioner and a key theme in her delivery plan focusing on putting a stop to Violence against Women and Girls.
Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell said, “As Police Commissioner, my priority is to Support Victims and Build Safer Communities for everyone.
“Modern Slavery devastates lives and communities, and we must work together to end exploitation and protect innocent victims from a lifetime of fear and intimidation.
“This abhorrent crime cannot be tackled by any one agency or organisation; we must respond collectively with meaningful action if we are to make positive change across Merseyside.
“That’s why it was great to have so much collective input from our partners during the consultation and it’s clear there a genuine commitment from all the agencies in the Network to stopping those who seek to exploit and manipulate the vulnerable for their own gain.
“I would like to thank all those who provided their feedback and expertise, which has helped develop this important document. By working together, we can be a force for change, making our region safer for all men, women and children.”
Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner said Cllr Jeanie Bell said, “We know that, by working in partnership, we can improve the way services are run, making a real difference to victims and empowering them to forge new lives free from control and coercion, while also ensuring those who seek to exploit innocent victims face justice.
“It is vital that we keep at the forefront of our minds, the real-life experiences of those who have been enslaved. To hear the story of a victim survivor is incredibly impactful, so I’m grateful to him for giving up his time to attend this launch.
“It’s a stark reminder of why this work is so important in providing the best possible support for those affected by exploitation and removing the scrouge of Modern Slavery in our communities.
“This delivery plan is designed to recognise where there are gaps or weaknesses that we must act on and ensuring, as a partnership, we are working together to tackle this issue as effectively as possible and provide the best possible support to those affected by this abhorrent crime.”
Help stamp out Modern Slavery and learn how to spot the signs of exploitation here: https://www.unseenuk.org/about-modern-slavery/spot-the-signs/
Any suspicions the public have on someone being exploited should be reported to the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.
Image: Deputy PCC Cllr Jeanie Bell and PCC Emily Spurrell with the Merseyside Modern Slavery Network Delivery Plan