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PCC supports force operations tackling on-street sexual exploitation in Luton

PCC supports force operations tackling on-street sexual exploitation in Luton

Funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner, Azalea has launched a new mobile drop-in van this week to provide 1-1 support sessions to sex workers who may have been trafficked or may be victims of exploitation.

Azalea Cofounder and CEO, Ruth Robb, said: “By creating a mobile drop-in van, we will bring our unique Azalea ethos right to where women surviving sex trafficking are to be found – be that on the streets or during our partnership support of Police and Border Force warrants.

“From this van we will be able to offer an immediate place of safety, out of sight from the traffickers and pimps who are watching close by. A safe, warm, trauma informed environment where women can take a moment to sit, talk, have a hot meal and drink, access mental health therapeutic support, and most importantly begin to build the relationships with our volunteer team that will be instrumental in their journey to exit.”

The Luton-based charity has worked with around 450 women in Luton over the last 15 years, many of whom are highly vulnerable, the number of which in the area increased by 47% since Covid-19 in 2020. Azalea have been valuable partners of Bedfordshire Police for several years, working alongside the force on warrants and operations such as Operation Octans.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Festus Akinbusoye, said: “In Bedfordshire we are seeing a change in the nature of the sex industry. Bedfordshire Police’s modern slavery and human trafficking teams are receiving more and more reports of concerns for the welfare of women and girls who are being exploited and are reliant on the support of the force and our victim-centred services to help them.”

“As part of my Police and Crime plan, Bedfordshire Police are focussing on tackling the causes of crime and breaking the cycle of reoffending. Initiatives such as this excellent proposal by Azalea is guaranteed to play a vital role in assisting the partnership in providing the necessary support to victims that as such will interrupt the cycle of offending in this area.”

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