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Sheffield Hosts Modern Day Slavery Conference

Updated: 22/09/2015

A national conference on modern day slavery is being held in Sheffield to equip professionals with the skills to identify and report the crime.

Sheffield Hosts Modern Day Slavery Conference

Pictured: The Truth Uncovered conference will lift the lid on modern day slavery. Image posed by a model.

A national conference on modern day slavery is being held in Sheffield to equip professionals with the skills to identify and report the crime. 

 National human trafficking experts will lift the lid on the extent of modern day slavery across the UK and beyond at Truth Uncovered, on September 24th, at St Mary’s Conference Centre, Bramall Lane.  

They will reveal the extent of this hidden crime, what is being done to tackle it, how professionals can become more aware of the signs, and where to report concerns, following a European Union Directive requiring frontline workers undergo awareness training.

The event is aimed at raising awareness amongst professionals who are more likely to come into contact with victims and perpetrators of slavery and human trafficking, such as doctors, nurses, police officers, border agency staff, social workers, youth workers and teachers.

The conference is being organised by The Sheffield College, a lead partner in the Truth Project - a European Union funded programme raising awareness of modern day slavery. For more information, click here.

In addition to the conference, the College, together with organisations in Greece, Italy and Romania, has also created an online course, Truth Uncovered, specifically for frontline professionals.

Developed for the European Academy For The Prevention of Human Trafficking, the course explains the warning signs of human trafficking and what to do if suspicions are raised, and is available in English, Greek, Italian and Romanian.

Heather Smith, Principal, The Sheffield College, who will open the event, said: “We all have a responsibility to be aware of the signs of modern day slavery, which is the illegal trade of men, women and children and far more widespread than first thought. The College welcomes the opportunity to bring experts together for this conference and to provide the online educational expertise for this European Union project, so that more frontline professionals are equipped with the knowledge and skills to combat this hidden crime.”

The conference speakers include:

  • Dr Aidan McQuade, Director of Anti-Slavery International
  • Peter Stanley, Former Strategic Director, Stop the Traffik
  • Brian Taylor, the former head of UNODC’s Anti-Trafficking Unit
  • Paul Blomfield, Sheffield Central MP
  • Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner.

Dr Aidan McQuade, Director, Anti-Slavery International, said: “Identification of victims of modern slavery by frontline professionals is a weak link in Britain’s response to the crime. Many trafficking victims fall through the cracks of the system and don’t receive the assistance they need, meaning in turn that the traffickers can go about their business with impunity. That’s why working with frontline professionals is very important for getting the response to slavery right."

Paul Blomfield, Sheffield Central MP, added: “Sheffield has a great tradition of challenging exploitation. Local people fought slavery in the eighteenth century; this conference will help us defeat the evil of modern day slavery that shames our society. I welcome the awareness raising tool for frontline professionals, developed with the support of the European Union. The UK’s Modern Slavery Act was a welcome step forward in tackling this heinous crime. But, as I have argued in Parliament, failing to properly enforce the national minimum wage, health and safety and other standards sends a message to gangmasters that the Government is turning a blind eye to exploitation. I look forward to discussing these issues as part of the Truth Uncovered conference.”

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, commented: “Many people will find the idea of slavery in the modern world hard to comprehend. The idea that it may be going on in our own towns and cities is even more difficult. But the trafficking of human beings from town to town and country to country is a shocking feature of the world we live in. If we are to eradicate it, we must first acknowledge and understand it, recognising who the vulnerable people are and how what we can do to help them.”

He added: “There are a number of young people in South Yorkshire who sadly fall in to this category and are trafficked by perpetrators who use and abuse them, including children who are sexually exploited. South Yorkshire Police are currently running a campaign to raise awareness of the signs of modern slavery and you can find more information on their website -http://www.southyorks.police.uk/modernslavery. We must all work together to understand and stop this emerging issue."

Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings, and a modern day form of slavery. It includes forced labour, domestic slavery and coercion into the sex industry. Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers in this country and abroad through abduction, coercion or force, fraud, deception or abuse of power.

The Modern Slavery Act became law in March 2015 and has been introduced by the Government to step up action against human trafficking and slavery. A European Union Directive, which came into force in 2013, states that all officials likely to come into contact with victims or potential victims of trafficking in human beings should be adequately trained to identify and deal with them.

The Truth Uncovered conference takes place on Thursday September 24th from 9.45am until 4.30pm at St Mary’s Conference Centre, Bramall Lane, Sheffield. S2 4QZ. Book your free place by clicking on the Eventbrite link here. For further information, email events@sheffcol.ac.uk or call 0114 2602600.