Conference to raise public awareness of modern slavery coming to Poole

Poole will mark Anti-Slavery Day 2017 with an important conference designed to raise awareness of modern day slavery and human trafficking. 

Nazir Afzal OBE, former Chief Crown Prosecutor of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for North West England will be the headline speaker at the event at Lighthouse, Poole on Thursday 5 October 2017. Nazir was responsible for initiating prosecutions in the case of the Rochdale sex trafficking gang, as portrayed in the BBC’s recent acclaimed drama Three Girls.

Other speakers include Kevin Hyland OBE, the UK’s first Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner; Shaun Sawyer; Chief Constable for Devon and Cornwall Police and the national policing lead for modern slavery; and the Sophie Hayes Foundation, which works to enable survivors to build independent, purposeful lives following their experience as a modern day slave.

The term ‘modern slavery’ encompasses slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking. Victims of modern slavery are unable to leave their situation of exploitation, controlled by threats, punishment, violence, coercion and deception.

Nazir Afzal said: "In life we only have two choices, do nothing or do something. Modern slavery and the exploitation of our fellow humans is the crime of our times. Under our noses, in plain sight, victims suffer the indignities of being treated as a ‘thing’ and abused with no hope of release. At this conference we raise awareness, we educate and we fight back."

Organised by the Safer Poole Partnership, this year’s conference follows the success of previous events which have addressed gender identity, domestic and sexual violence against both women and men.

Tickets for the free event are available now and can be booked online.

Anthi Minhinnick, Community Safety Manager at for the Safer Poole Partnership, said: “This conference will be an opportunity for front-line workers to refresh their knowledge and improve practices to ensure that victims of this appalling crime are quickly identified and receive the best possible support. Many tickets have already been reserved – over 800 have already been booked - so we’d encourage anyone who would like to attend to book as soon as possible.

“We would also like to thank our event partners for their sponsorship and assistance in making this event possible; AFC Bournemouth, the Office of the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, BCHA Liberty Project, and the Poole Soroptimist’s Purple Teardrop Campaign.”

Former domestic worker Marissa Begonia will also address the conference. Marissa, who has first-hand experience of the abuse and exploitation that can go on in a private house, is also the founder of Justice For Domestic Workers and has campaigned change in the Modern Slavery Bill to protect migrant workers’ right to change employer.

Completing the thought-provoking line-up is The Natashas Project, an international contemporary dance company which aims to challenge and change the reality of human trafficking in the sex slavery industry.

Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill said: "This conference is incredibly important. Dorset isn't exempt; modern slavery is happening close to home. Knowing the signs are crucial if we are to safeguard vulnerable people - a key priority in my new Police & Crime Plan. I encourage everyone to attend and report any concerns to the modern slavery helpline."

Conference attendees will also be asked to bring some unusual items along with them. The Purple Teardrop Campaign will be collecting bras and men’s ties on the day, both of which will be used to help people in the developing world improve their lives. Bras will be shipped to survivors of sex trafficking in Mozambique, El Salvador and Kenya to help them set up their own business selling second hand bras, which are a status symbol in these countries and command a good price. Meanwhile, ties will make their way to the Purple Community Fund (PCF), who teach disadvantaged people in the Philippines, Tanzania and other countries how to make beautiful handbags and other accessories out of upcycled men’s ties which are then sold to raise funds for PCF’s projects.

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