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Effective Services for Vulnerable Groups update

 

Making Wales hostile to slavery

Slavery is a serious infringement of human rights and a multi-agency response is required to tackle this heinous crime. The Effective Services for Vulnerable Groups (ESVG) Board has recently considered this important issue, and here Welsh Government Anti-Slavery Co-Ordinator Stephen Chapman explains below how all public services, including housing, have an important role to play

Slavery in Wales

Slavery is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights. Until recently slavery was a ‘hidden crime’ and under reported. However, the high profile media reporting of slavery cases in Wales has focused the attention of the public and recorded incidents of slavery to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) continue to increase each year.

In Wales, sexual exploitation remains the most prevalent type of slavery reported, with labour exploitation the second highest reported. Reports of labour exploitation are on the increase. Significant source countries are Albania, China, Vietnam, and Nigeria.

Whilst cases of reported slavery in Wales are relatively low in number, arrests have received wide media exposure. These cases have underlined the need to build on the improving multi-agency response, and for learning to continue to be cascaded to partners across Wales. Housing professionals in Wales have a key role to play in responding to slavery, through reporting suspected cases of slavery and supporting survivors.

The Welsh Government approach to Slavery

The Welsh Government is committed to making Wales hostile to slavery and providing the best possible support to survivors.  The cost of slavery is high, for individuals involved and for public services.

Slavery is a complex issue, crossing borders, cultures and organisational responsibilities.  Tackling it requires strong, strategic leadership and coordinated action.  We all have a part to play, whether as individuals or as part of a public service organisation.

The appointment of the Anti-Slavery Co-ordinator in 2011 strengthened how Wales responds to tackling slavery and delivers against shared goals. The Welsh Government is the only UK Government to have created such a post.

In January 2013, to ensure a strategic multi-agency approach, the Welsh Government established the Wales Anti-Slavery Leadership Group. The leadership group has continued to bring together evidence on the scale of the problem, set the strategic direction for the agenda in Wales, support and encourage the sharing of ‘best practice’ between partners and report progress to the minister for public services.

In May 2014, the Wales Anti-Slavery Operational Delivery Group was established to oversee and co-ordinate the work taking place across Wales to tackle slavery. The operational group also facilitates the sharing of good practice and local delivery through the Regional Anti-Slavery Fora. These are responsible for delivering ‘local’ initiatives and also have an information and intelligence sharing function.

The training sub-group of the Wales Anti-Slavery Leadership Group has put in place a consistent training programme across Wales aimed at developing skills and confidence to identify, report and deal with slavery. These training courses are delivered to the widest possible audience and organisations receiving training include local authorities, police and other law enforcement agencies, health, education, universities, airport and port staff, the housing sector, the third sector, and community groups.

With oversight from the leadership group, A ‘survivor care pathway’ has been developed by Bawso[1] which is being rolled out across Wales. The pathway puts in place an individual plan for survivors detailing how ‘wrap-around’ services will be provided to support them to restore their life back to normality.

Role of housing professionals

We strongly encourage housing partners to contribute to the anti-slavery agenda, and emphasise the important role housing professionals can play in tackling slavery, through identifying cases of slavery and supporting survivors.  

Free training is available across Wales to ensure partners are equipped to undertake this role.  A three-hour anti-slavery awareness course, suitable for all levels of those working in public services, provides a basic understanding of the signs that could indicate a case of slavery and what the response should be. By committing to educating themselves and colleagues of this crime, including how to spot the signs and symptoms of those who are potential victims, Housing professionals can make a real difference to the outcome for these vulnerable individuals.

 

How to report slavery:-

Emergency: 999

Non-emergency: 101

Crimestoppers: 0800 555 111

Modern slavery helpline: 0800 0121700

For more information on how we are tackling slavery in Wales please see the Welsh Government website: www.wales.gov.uk/anti-slavery

For more information on how to access anti-slavery training please contact:

  • Cardiff & the Vale

Chair Nici Evans – E-mail: [email protected]

  • Dyfed Powys

Chair Helida Ramogi – E-mail: [email protected]

  • Gwent

Joint chairs Mariam Elmirghani and Huw Watkins

E-mail: [email protected]  [email protected]

  • North Wales

Chair: Jim Coy – E-mail: [email protected]

  • Western Bay

Chair: Lynn Minshall – E-mail: [email protected]


[1] Bawso delivers specialist services to people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds who are affected by domestic abuse and other forms of abuse, including female genital mutilation, forced marriage, slavery & prostitution.

 

 

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