24th September 2015 – Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield told delegates at a modern day slavery conference that Sheffield can be at the forefront of efforts to tackle the crime.
The conference, organised by The Sheffield College, is part of a European Union project to raise awareness of slavery and human trafficking among those who are more likely to come into contact with victims, such as doctors, nurses, police officers, border agency staff, social workers, youth workers and teachers.
At the conference, international experts on slavery and human trafficking told frontline professionals about the extent of modern slavery in the UK, how to become aware of the signs, and where to report concerns.
In his speech to the conference, Paul Blomfield said:
“People think slavery is a thing of the past. But there are almost as many people around the world today in situations of slavery, servitude or forced labour than there was during the Atlantic slave trade That is why the Truth Uncovered project, and the conference today, are so important. Shining a light on what is really going on. And, crucially, what we can all do about it.”
He criticised the Government for treating victims of slavery as criminals, rather than going after the gangmasters who exploit them, saying:
“I will be doing all I can, together with my colleagues in Parliament, to convince the Government to take a different approach -; to focus on enforcing labour standards and stopping the gangmasters, rather than punishing the victims of slavery.”
Speaking before the conference, Paul Blomfield said:
“Sheffield has a great tradition of challenging exploitation. Local people fought slavery in the eighteenth century; this conference will help us defeat the evil of modern day slavery that shames our society.”
- Paul Blomfield played an active role in scrutinising the Coalition Government’s Modern Slavery Bill, proposing amendments and ways in which the Bill could be strengthened.
- The Modern Slavery Act entered into force in March 2015.
- Paul Blomfield sits on the board of Focus on Labour Exploitation, a charity that works towards effective responses to trafficking for labour exploitation, prioritising the needs and voice of trafficked persons and their human rights.
- Paul Blomfield will raise concerns that proposals in the Government’s Immigration Bill, which will have its Second Reading in Parliament on Tuesday 13th October, will result in fewer modern slavery victims coming forward, allowing perpetrators to exploit them with impunity.
- Truth Uncovered is a European Union-funded project, raising awareness of modern slavery in the UK and beyond https://www.truthuncovered.eu/.
- The Sheffield College is a lead partner in the Truth Project, together with organisations in Greece, Italy and Romania. The partners have created an online course, Truth Uncovered, for frontline professionals explaining the warning signs of human trafficking and what to do if suspicions are raised. It is available in English, Greek, Italian and Romanian.
Contact details: Paul Blomfield MP’s office can be contacted on 0114 272 2882.