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Anti-slavery network to be launched in the county

A partnership to support victims of human trafficking and modern-day slavery is being launched in the county thanks to funding from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk (OPCCN).

The two-year pilot scheme is being co-ordinated by the British Red Cross which aims to develop a Norfolk Anti-Slavery Network, working with partners to ensure best practice and shared learning.

The initiative has been funded under the £450k Hidden Victims’ Fund which was launched by Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green last year and aims to support hidden victims of crime and reduce vulnerability.

The Red Cross received £66,155 under the fund after the OPCCN identified a need for additional provision to complement existing networks, for a co-ordinated and strategic response by partner organisations to recognise and support victims.

Launching the £450k Hidden Victims’ Fund last summer, Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green, said: “Supporting victims and reducing vulnerability in Norfolk is a main priority for me as PCC and is also a core aim of my Police and Crime Plan.

“This major fund aims to help prevent some of those ‘hidden’ crimes which are traditionally under-reported and, crucially, to support those who are victims of such crimes.”

Lorne added: “I am delighted my office will be working with the British Red Cross on such a crucial project in the county. Partnership working is ultimately the key to ensuring victims get the right support and help they need to escape the impossible trap they can find themselves in.

“Together we can work to make a real difference.”brc_txt_only_logo_wmv3rw-002-237x106Laura Johnson, Anti-Trafficking Advisor (UK), at the Red Cross, said: “The British Red Cross is working hard to strengthen the anti-trafficking sector and we look forward to our involvement in this important initiative. Together we can increase support systems and enable more people to reach out for help to leave exploitation.

"The role of the community and voluntary sector, working alongside other agencies to protect those who are forced into exploitation for the financial gain of others, is vital. This important network will allow us to build on our work to address modern day slavery in Norfolk.”

The project is the third to be funded in the county under the Hidden Victims’ Fund.

Earlier this year West Norfolk-based charity the Pandora Project – which works with women and children affected by domestic abuse – received a £214,687 grant to support off-street sex workers who may be vulnerable to human trafficking or modern slavery over a three-year period.

The St Giles Trust received £89,028 under the Hidden Victims’ Fund and a further £87,737 under the Home Office’s Early Intervention Youth Fund to run its SOS+ Norfolk Project to help young people at risk of criminal exploitation – again over three years.

The Red Cross will be working alongside stakeholders including staff within Norfolk Constabulary’s Safeguarding and Investigations Directorate and the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).

Assistant Chief Constable Nick Davison said: “Modern day slavery is a reality here in Norfolk. A significant priority for us is rescuing and referring victims: making sure people being exploited by organised criminals receive the help and support they need and deserve.

“These are vulnerable people living in our communities, people who are often too frightened to speak out. The development of the Norfolk Anti-Slavery Network will support everyone to play their part in identifying and supporting victims; and ultimately helping us to bring those responsible for this crime to justice.”

For more information on the Red Cross visit here