Bedford Against Modern Slavery Conference
Training the Trainer Conference “Taking positive action against modern slavery in Bedfordshire”
Friday 16th October at Moggerhanger Park, Bedfordshire.
This conference was organised and supported by BAMS (Bedfordshire Against Modern Slavery), which was formed in 2012 to highlight and tackle modern slavery. The founder members were Kristy Adams previously a Bedford borough councillor, a senior police office and two members of SI Bedford, Rita and Pauline. The aim of the conference was to continue to raise aware and assist “first responders” to understand their responsibilities especially in relation to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) enabling them to begin to cascade information their work teams as part of in house training programmes. It was fortuitous that the day we choose for our conference was the very day that Kevin Hyland (independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner) launched his strategy to tackle modern slavery. This did cause us a few problems as Kevin was originally our first speaker, but due to his media commitments he had to postpone his arrival and presentation until the afternoon; luckily our presenters were happy to change their time slots.
Paul Connop from the UKHTC started the day (after lots of coffee and biscuits) and gave a splendid presentation regarding the work of his agency and an excellent overview of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. Paul also spoke about the situational and environmental indicators of modern slavery as well as factual and investigative indicators, he gave some examples of different types of modern slavery that the UKHTC had encountered and the action taken. We were all moved by his narrative regarding a young very vulnerable man from Wales who was enslaved by travellers on a horse breeding site from 2000 – 2013 before eventually being freed by police.
Diane Payne The Programme Development Manager from the Salvation Army was our second speaker and continued in the same vein by outlining the work of the Salvation Army with regard to Modern Slavery. Diane actually started by speaking a little about the history of the Salvation Army’s work with regard to human trafficking and slavery which commenced in 1885 in their work with young prostitutes in London and beyond. Since 2011, the Salvation Army has been the prime contractor for managing the support for adult victims of trafficking in England and Wales, it now includes modern slavery. Diane spoke expertly about the referral time’s lines, impact of trafficking, indicators and NFM. Diane engaged with the delegates throughout the presentation and her session was also well received.
DCI David Cestaro from Bedfordshire Police gave a small but perfectly formed presentation regarding the present situation in Bedfordshire including three recent police operations undertaken. These were two traveller sites in which over 15 vulnerable men were rescued and the perpetrators were given long prison sentences and one brothel in which 5 Eastern European women were rescued recently.
Tatiana Jardan The Director of Human Trafficking Foundation provided an overview of the work of the foundation especially the networking among various organisation and charities it facilitates. Tatiana also spoke about the modern slavery exhibition that is now stored at Moggerhanger Park. At lunch time when the delegates were all visiting the anti-slavery exhibition, Kevin Hyland arrived and took advantage of the quiet to grab a coffee and some lunch before his presentation. It was good to catch up with him and hear a little about his future plans, he made particular reference to all the work undertaken by Soroptimists and expressed his thanks and admiration for the organisation. He certainly knows all about us and remembers meeting us at CSW in NY last year and the projects we are involved with across the world.
Kevin Hyland OBE Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner delivered a brilliant presentation starting with his view of the International Scene and how we must tackle modern slavery at source and his plans for doing this by working with Governments, NGOs and others across the world. He stated “There appears to be indications of systemic under-recording and misreporting in statistics compiled by the police and other agencies. All of this suggests that the true picture may be even worse than the current figures indicate”. Kevin also gave us an overview of his new strategy and his work with The Pope, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Commissioner of London Metropolitan Police), church leaders and police in the Santa Marta Group tackling human slavery and supporting survivors. Once again every one present will remember his presentation from a narrative regarding a survivor who just wanted a hug from the Pope and that’s exactly what she received when Pope Francis visited a centre she was attending. Kevin started and finished his session with a William Wilberforce quote “You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know”.
We were all inspired and energised by Kevin’s presentation and we look forward to continue working with him into the future in tackling modern slavery. His strategy is well thought out, but will require additional funding and man power resources in order to succeed. Let’s hope he achieves this.
Andrew Selous MP Prisons and Probation Minister gave a brief account of the Governments journey towards creating the New Modern Slavery Legislation We were also unexpectedly joined by Olly Martin the Police and Crime Commissioner for Bedfordshire who also spoke a little about the work of and challenges of funding Bedfordshire Police. During the afternoon a film crew from Bedfordshire Police joined the conference to film material for a fly on the wall series to be screened at a later date on BBC4 showing the work of Bedfordshire Police.
Opting to use Moggerhanger Park for our anti-slavery conference was a conscious decision because of its strong links with William Wilberforce via the Thornton family who owned the house previously. There are three anti-slavery exhibitions based at Moggerhanger including the one that was recently displayed in The House Of Commons. Delegates were able to visit the exhibitions at lunch time. In all a great but exhausting day!
Rita and I were supported and assisted by two of our SI Bedford colleagues, Margaret Badley, who did a great job with the technical issues and photograph, whilst our President Pauline Stewart assisted in booking in, networking and much more. Our thanks to them both and I hope they realise there is much more to come!!! Pauline and Rita