Modern slavery was the topic of discussion at a conference held at the Eden Project which was co-hosted by Bishop Tim.

A number of speakers from across the UK addressed the complexity of this issue.

Joining Bishop Tim as co-hosts were Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, National Policing Lead for Modern Slavery; and Chief Executive of Cornwall Council, Andrew Kerr.

The conference’s aim was to raise awareness of the issue in Cornwall in the hope it will increase reporting of this crime and improve the way victims of slavery are cared for.

Bishop Tim said: “Some of the stories we heard during the conference were very moving and shocking and helped me appreciate this is an issue about which we should be concerned here in Cornwall. It was very good that there were representatives from across the faith communities present and I will be ensuring that we do find ways to continue the good work and to discover strategies and plans to inform people about the reality of modern slavery and to put in place systems to enable people suffering from such conditions to have their voice heard. Sadly, here in Cornwall there are too many opportunities for people to misuse other people. We, as human beings, should value each other and affirm one another. It is very good to have this day to put into focus the work that is being done and then work that must be done to stop the abuse of fellow human beings who are sadly being treated as slaves in our day and age.”

Modern slavery is a hidden crime and there is no typical victim; men, women and children of all ages and nationalities are being targeted by both serious and organised criminal gangs and opportunistic individuals who prey on their vulnerabilities. Victims are controlled and often isolated which makes it difficult for people to spot the signs and therefore report this type of crime to police. Forced to work against their will, for long hours in appalling conditions for little or no pay, victims are frequently subject to verbal or physical threats of violence to them or their loved ones.

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer said: “Police forces across the UK are committed to combating modern slavery and this conference enables professionals dealing with this type of crime in Cornwall to share best practice and continue to identify opportunities to work together to tackle the issue. In September 2014 eight suspected victims of human trafficking were rescued and eight people from Plymouth and Bodmin were charged with conspiracy to traffic people into the UK for the purposes of labour exploitation, as a result of Operation Triage, the largest investigation of its kind in Devon and Cornwall to date.”

Cornwall Council Chief Executive Andrew Kerr said: “Cornwall has significant employment in the agricultural, fishing and tourism industries which rely on migrant and temporary workers. The opportunity for illegal working and the exploitation of workers exists in all three sectors. Illegal working, exploitation and hidden or illicit economic activity causes difficulties for legitimate business that may be undercut and find it difficult to compete. Vulnerable British nationals as well as those from overseas may find themselves in a position where they are exploited, working for little or no pay or living in poor conditions and find it difficult to seek redress. I would encourage anyone who suspects someone is being exploited to come forward and report it via the Home Office Helpline, Crimestoppers or the police via 101.”

For more information about modern slavery, including the signs and symptoms of modern slavery, how to report cases and help suspected victims, visit www.modernslavery.co.uk

If you suspect a case of modern slavery please call police on 101, email 101@devonandcornwall.pnn.police.uk; call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, or the National Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700.

The Dark Side of ChocolateWhat more can we do?
One very easy way to take part in the battle against slavery on a global scale is to buy chocolate produced without the use of child slaves who have often been abducted or sold by their parents in the mistaken belief that children so sold would enjoy a better standard of living. To ensure that no child slave has been involved in the making of that chocolate look for the Fair Trade mark.

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