South Tyneside urged to be vigilant to human trafficking

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Council chiefs in South Tyneside stressed “no one should become complacent” to the “grave violation” of human trafficking, adding they have various support plans in place.

The council’s Children and Adults Safeguarding Panel were provided with a report on the reality of human trafficking and the proactive multi-agency preventative work in the area.

Although reports noted there are “no recent or current police investigations” into modern slavery or human trafficking in the South Tyneside area, there have been investigations centred on nearby Newcastle and Gateshead areas.

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Jackie Nolan, business manager for South Tyneside Safeguarding Children and Adults Partnership, stressed they cannot be complacent in the area, just because they are not aware of any cases.

The issue of human trafficking has been discussed by councillors.The issue of human trafficking has been discussed by councillors.
The issue of human trafficking has been discussed by councillors.

She said: “Modern day slavery and trafficking is a stark reality for many in this country.

“We shouldn’t become complacent just because we don’t have any hard evidence that we’ve got cases in South Tyneside, we shouldn’t be naive to think that we don’t.

“Regionally our police intelligence would suggest that we don’t have such a big problem with modern day slavery or human trafficking in the North East as other big major cities in the United Kingdom.

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“That could also suggest there is an intelligence gap in the understanding.”

Councillors heard among a list of the most frequently identified nationalities of victims of trafficking, British was top.

Ms Nolan added: “It doesn’t have to be country to country, it can be city to city, town to town, street to street, and right down to the basic room to room.

“If anybody knowingly moves a vulnerable adult or a child to another area or location to be exploited, that is human trafficking.

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“Human trafficking is just a grave violation of human rights and I think it’s important to stress that trafficking doesn’t sit on its own, it’s actually encompassed in the Modern Day Slavery Act.”

She added the main modern day slavery offences encountered within the Northumbria Police area are criminal exploitation, such as County Lines drug activity, and sexual exploitation.

Cllr Sue Stonehouse, speaking at the meeting, raised how people impacted by trafficking must be “obviously terrified” by the situations they face.

Officers reported measures the council have in place include a variety or response plans and sub-groups with partners to address issues around modern slavery, trafficking and exploitation, along with supporting victims.

Multi-Agency Safeguarding Training is also on offer in South Tyneside, and uptake of the courses “continue to be very positive across all agencies”, according to council reports.