Fighting against modern slavery

by Mark Burns Williamson

We are already well into 2018 and March will see us, my office and partners, continuing our fight against modern slavery with a key event in Leeds on March 2nd around improving how policing tackle this vile crime with our partners.

The Unlocking Slavery event follows a similar one at the Carr Gate training complex in Wakefield in January and a further event in Bristol that was funded via the Modern Slavery Police Transformation Programme.

Speakers at the event will include Shaun Sawyer, the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police who is the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) lead for modern slavery, and the National Crime Agency, who will be discussing their role in tackling the issue.

The Programme is funded through the Home Office’s national police transformation fund and it was set up to help improve the way in which the police and partners tackle modern slavery.

Officers from West Yorkshire Police, North Yorkshire Police, South Yorkshire Police and Humberside Police came together for the Carr Gate event to gain a better understanding of the steps to take once a possible case of modern slavery has been identified and what assistance is available to them.

These events provide a vital opportunity to network and share knowledge on tackling modern slavery, and to ensure we are doing all we can collectively to tackle these vile crimes and ensure perpetrators are disrupted, caught and punished wherever possible whilst victims and survivors are properly safeguarded and supported.

These roadshows are primarily focused on frontline responders and investigating officers who dealing with or are managing the early stages of an investigation connected to modern slavery and/or human trafficking.

It builds on the work we have done locally to establish a dedicated police Human Trafficking Team in West Yorkshire, a local Anti- Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network as well as the National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network (NATMSN) for all Police and Crime Commissioners for which I lead on nationally and Chair for all PCCs.

I am also pleased to see the issue of dangerous drivers on the districts roads continues to be taken very seriously by the courts, who have been given a Community Impact Statement by West Yorkshire Police, that they consider when passing sentence.

Motorists who continually flout the law and make the roads dangerous for other users need to know that they will be dealt with severely by the police and courts, and I sincerely hope that these strong deterrent messages are getting through.

Road safety is a significant concern in West Yorkshire communities and a priority in my Police and Crime Plan. Road safety cannot be achieved by the police alone and can only be tackled effectively if my office, the police, local government and other partners all work together to keep our roads safe for everyone.

Education and awareness raising is crucial to ensure that young people are aware of the dangers and consequences of driving illegally which can be much more devastating than a driving disqualification, which is serious enough in itself. Since 2015 officers from West Yorkshire Police have run a One Life Lost campaign aimed at young people aged 16 or over who are learning to drive or who are newly qualified. It has seen them visit more than 50 schools to speak with over 10,000 students about the devastating impact of fatal and serious collisions. These key messages will need to be often repeated to help change behaviours and attitudes towards dangerous driving and its devastating consequences.

Last year I was able to set a budget, with the help of our communities, to recruit 300 new police officers. A number of these officers have been dedicated to roads policing, working with our Neighbourhood Policing Teams across the county.

It is also very important that we continually improve our services with the use of new hand held technology and body worn cameras to make sure the needs of our police and communities are at the heart of effective policing and criminal justice outcomes. Investing in this cutting edge technology forms a crucial part of that picture, ensuring the public of West Yorkshire are safe and feel safe, but also crucially testing new proof of concepts so that the overall benefits can be rolled out across policing in West Yorkshire and nationally for everyone’s benefit.

For more information on any of the above initiatives or for any other information around the work carried out by my office please visit my website at

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