Council backs anti-slavery campaign

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News release: 13 October 2017

A “timely and vital” campaign urging people to show they want to stamp out modern slavery is to be launched.

Cllr Rowlands
Residents across the St Albans District are urged to join in by posting a selfie on social media on Wednesday 18 October, Anti-Slavery Day.

They should hold up the slogan, “I stand against modern slavery,” and use the hashtag #EndHumanTrafficking.

Among those who are taking part is Councillor Anthony Rowlands, the Mental Health Champion for St Albans City and District Council.

He is involved in highlighting the crime because slavery victims often have learning difficulties, addictions or other mental health problems.

Cllr Rowlands will be joined by the Council’s other Mental Health Champions as well as Chief Executive Amanda Foley and staff from its Community Protection Team.

Anti -Slavery Day is backed by the Hertfordshire Modern Slavery Partnership, an organisation that aims to prevent human trafficking in the County.

The Council through its Community Protection Team works closely with the police and other agencies to support their efforts.

To raise awareness of the growing problem of slavery, the Team will seeking the support of taxi drivers - who can be key sources of information - among other groups.

Leaflets about the crime will be distributed to the drivers because their job gives them a unique insight into what is happening across the District.

The pamphlets will brief them about warning signs and ask them to commit to reporting any suspicious activities that they encounter.

Some of the District Council’s staff who are in frontline service roles such as housing are also to undergo training to increase their awareness of the issue.

Hertfordshire Modern Slavery Partnership’s members include Hertfordshire Constabulary, Hertfordshire County Council and the Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd. It is working with the Shiva Foundation, an independent anti-slavery organisation. 

Over the next couple of months, the Partnership is planning a number of other activities to promote the cause.

It is proposing to place poster in buses operating in the District that will give details of the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 121 700.

County-wide, there will be a mobile phone campaign targeting vulnerable groups and sending them information about their rights within the UK.

The campaign follows a number of high-profile prosecutions in Britain in recent years for slavery and trafficking.

Last year at St Albans Crown Court, a local man was jailed for four years for using a vulnerable labourer as a slave.

Councillor Rowlands said: “We are backing the Partnership’s campaign because it is timely and vital that we tackle this issue.

“The campaign has the important aim of raising awareness of the growing problem of slavery and also reaches out to people who might be victims, but are too frightened of coming forward.

“There is no doubt that slavery is out there, but it is very difficult for the police and other authorities to get hard and fast information. I urge anyone who has suspicions to contact the Modern Slavery Helpline.”

The Shiva Foundation is supported by Shiva Hotels and currently applying for recognition as a charity. For more information, see: www.shivafoundation.org.uk/

Picture: Councillor Anthony Rowlands.

Councillor contact:
Cllr Anthony Rowlands, Mental Health Champion for St Albans City and District Council. Tel: 07761-232064; email:.anthonyrowlands@hotmail.com.

Media contact:
John McJannet, Principal Communications Officer, St Albans City and District Council. Tel: 01727-296130; email: john.mcjannet@stalbans.gov.uk.