Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner -  
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PCC provides toolkit to help tackle Modern Day Slavery and exploitation children and young people in Bedfordshire
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, is encouraging the public and professionals working with young and vulnerable people to help spot the signs of Modern Day Slavery and exploitation by using a toolkit she has funded. 

The PCC commissioned youth charity, The Mary Seacole Trust, to run the project and put together the ‘Information about Exploitation’ toolkit. The 20-page guide covers Sexual Exploitation, Forced Labour, Forced Criminality, Forced Marriage, Human Trafficking, Organ Harvesting and Domestic Servitude, as a learning aid which can be used to support and empower individuals at risk of or experiencing exploitation. 
 
“This summer alone has seen Bedfordshire Police release individuals from Eastern Europe who have been trafficked into slavery to work on farms here and live in squalor. They have also safeguarded multiple young women who arrived expecting a prosperous working life in Britain and a new future and who ended up being driven into prostitution. Modern Day Slavery is an issue affecting both the rural and urban communities of Bedfordshire and we needed to provide information to help those at most risk.

“It’s been a great pleasure to work with Mary Seacole whose management team and workforce have impressed me so hugely throughout more than four years of knowing them as Bedfordshire’s PCC. These are people who live and breathe the ambition to help young people and the most disadvantaged to turn their lives around and they were absolutely the best choice to deliver this work to the very individuals at greatest risk of being exploited,” said Commissioner Holloway.
 
The project was researched over the course of 2019, which involved working with victims of exploitation, some of whom were unaware they were being exploited in terms of pay and accommodation and did not know their legal rights. This led to Mary Seacole staff producing the booklet and online toolkit to be used by professionals as an aid to support and raise awareness of exploitation. An integral part of the development of the toolkit was the involvement of young people who themselves had experience of exploitation and their voices lend impact to the case studies and the themes covered in the toolkit.
 
The booklet has been distributed across Bedfordshire to youth clubs, schools, the Youth Offending Service and other local organisations. Training was also offered to these organisations to offer additional support. The booklet has been positively received, with feedback stating it is easy to use and understand, relevant and engaging.
 
Chief Executive for Mary Seacole Housing Association, Matthew Bushell, said: “Thankyou to the Police and Crime Commissioner for supporting organisations and projects who work to prevent offending, protect communities and support victims of crime to cope, recover and move forward. We are especially proud of Mary Seacole Housing Association residents, who through their hard work and dedication were supported to co-produce this resource. Residents drew upon their experiences to create the booklet and online material which provided authenticity”

Dr Helen Connolly, a senior lecturer at the University of Bedfordshire who was part of the team who worked on the Modern Day Slavery Act in 2015, said: “The trafficking and exploitation of children and young people is one of the biggest global challenges of our time and it is an issue that we face locally in our communities in Bedfordshire. The nature of the crime, allied to the general lack of knowledge about child trafficking and exploitation amongst key professionals and within our communities, means that many more vulnerable children and young people will have gone unidentified and unprotected.

“Children and young people’s lives are at risk when they are trafficked and exploited and the long term impacts are cruel and devastating. This resource is an urgent and necessary contribution to tackling the trafficking and exploitation of children and young people in our region. It offers important knowledge about types of child trafficking, responses to child trafficking and its impact. The voices of young survivors in this resource bring the issue alive and offer us all a compelling invitation to do what we can to better protect the lives and futures of trafficked children and young people and those at risk.”

“I’m obviously particularly pleased that such experienced professionals have approved of and supported this project as well as identifying the need to get more information to those at risk of being preyed upon. I’d like to say a very special thankyou though to every young person working with Mary Seacole who opened up and talked about some terrible experiences in their own lives, purely to help others to avoid being trapped in the same way,” said PCC Holloway.



Information Against Exploitation Project