Extra funding to help victims of human trafficking and modern slavery.
Human trafficking and modern slavery victims in Wiltshire will be offered even more practical support in their initial recovery stages – thanks to funding secured by Wiltshire’s Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).
Additional funding of just over £22,000 was successfully bid for by the OPCC from The Home Office and means a wider distribution of 'Go Bags' alongside recently- introduced safety cards and victim support materials in a variety of different languages. The extensions of the existing scheme, which helps Wiltshire Police and the OPCC deliver against Priority 4 of the Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan, will not only support victims but ensure Wiltshire Police's services are accessible to more people.
The bags, which were initially launched by the Police and Crime Commissioner and Wiltshire Police last year, not only offer victims necessities – including toiletries, change of clothes and basic mobile phones – but they also help to build their trust and confidence in the police.
PCC Philip Wilkinson said: “Victims of modern slavery and human trafficking are vulnerable and often overwhelmed when they first encounter police. They often feel completely dehumanised by those who exploit them.
“While these bags are a small gesture, they offer much needed practical support in the first days following a victim being rescued from exploitation.
“They give back some sense of independence and play an important role in demonstrating to victims, particularly where English may not be their first language, that the police are there to help them, not criminalise them.”
Modern slavery is often hidden in plain sight, and with victims often having any means of independence and outside communication taken away from them, Wiltshire Police continues to urge the public to remain vigilant and report any concerns, no matter how minor they seem.
Detective Chief Inspector Phil Walker, Wiltshire Police’s Lead for Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, said: “A victim-focused approach is essential when dealing with Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking offences.
“It’s important we build rapport with victims – people who are vulnerable, frightened and overwhelmed when we first meet them. Often, they are from a different country and speak a different language. These support kits can help initiate that important first step of helping a victim.
“Perhaps, all they see is a uniform at first, but the offer of help through the ‘Go Bags’, phones and booklets can start to build an all-important connection between them and our officers and staff.”
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