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Successful Regional Study Day on County Lines

On 13 April, 32 Soroptimists attended a Study Day organised by President Alison Driscoll. This was to raise awareness of human trafficking and modern slavery.

Our key speaker was Cliff Grieve, a former Detective  Superintendent and founder of Kent Community Against Trafficking (KCAT). He is also an Ambassador to Kent for the Rotary Action Group Against Slavery (RAGAS).

Cliff shared some statistics: –

  • The numbers for human trafficking over last 10 years are on the increase
  • Estimated 52million worldwide.
  • 138000 British citizens are slaves in the UK.
  • Every 10 seconds a child is being taken.

Modern Slavery is said to be ‘hidden in plain sight’. We all come into contact with victims in our daily lives. In industries such as beauty, car wash, hospitality, construction, domestic and agricultural industry’s. Also criminal activities such as the sex trade, organ trafficking and drugs.

The types of human trafficking and modern slavery are: –

  • forced labour, as seen in care homes,
  • criminal exploitation i.e. cannabis cultivation, (if under 18 cannot agree to exploitation),
  • sexual exploitation,
  • forced marriage and
  • debt bondage which can be passed on to family members.

A video called ‘Dangerous Lover Boy’ was shown and a second one about County Lines.

County Lines is a particular type of criminal slavery. Children and young people are coerced into selling drugs on behalf of gangs. The victims are groomed by the offer of gifts such as a phone or new clothing. Once tricked, the young people are forced to continue by intimidation or violence.

The physical impacts of Human Trafficking can include: –

  • lack of access to medical care,
  • physical injury,
  • sexual health, and
  • ritual abuse.

The psychological impact can be: –

  • post-traumatic responses,
  • depression and/or anxiety,
  • feelings of guilt or shame,
  • self-harming and
  • suicidal.

‘Every person trapped in modern slavery is a person with a name and a dream’.

Discussions followed where we had 3 questions to debate on : –

  • Sexual exploitation,
  • County Lines, and
  • the Illegal Migration Act.

These proved to be interesting talking points. Copies of the questions can be taken back to club meetings for further discussion.

We can all play our part in helping people escape modern slavery and find protection and support to build a better life.  Be alert to the signs and report suspected instances using the Stop the Traffik app.  It is comprehensive, easy to use safely and securely, and anonymously if required.

Dial 999 if someone is in any danger. Better a false but well-intentioned call than no call at all. It might just save someone’s life being taken or stolen.