Human trafficking can be stopped says crime commissioner after police rescue two children in Halifax

West Yorkshire police and crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson says everyone has a part to play in tackling human trafficking.
West Yorkshire police and crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson says everyone has a part to play in tackling human trafficking.

The rescue of two suspected human trafficking victims found by police in Halifax shows the "vile crime" can be stopped, a crime commissioner has said.

Mark Burns-Williamson, the police and crime commissioner for West Yorkshire, today said that everyone could help authorities to tackle this kind of activity in their own communities.

Read more: Police in Halifax rescue two children during human trafficking operation

His comments came as West Yorkshire Police revealed officers in Calderdale had found two children believed to have been trafficked into the UK during an operation earlier this month.

The children, both aged 17, were found in two stores in the Halifax area, where they were found in the company of staff who were working.

The discovery was made during a four-day operation involving police, representatives from the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) and the charity Hope for Justice, who visited a number of commercial premises across the district.

Mr Burns-Williamson, who is also the national lead on human trafficking and modern slavery, said: “How anyone can treat other humans in such an appalling way is beyond me, however, stopping it from taking place is not beyond us as this fantastic multi-partnership operation has shown.

“We are working tirelessly to tackle human trafficking and modern slavery by the creation of our dedicated Unit, raising awareness and improving partnership working not just in West Yorkshire but also nationally recognised."

Read more: Modern slavery affecting 'every large town and city' in Yorkshire and the rest of the UK
He said everyone could help fight this "vile crime" by reporting any suspicions.

"General indicators of human trafficking or modern slavery can include signs of physical or psychological abuse, fear of authorities, poor living conditions and working long hours for little or no pay," he said. "If you have any suspicions, please report them to the police or the Modern Slavery Helpline."

Ian Waterfield, director of operations at the GLAA, said: "This operation demonstrates the importance of the partnerships we have with colleagues in the police, government and charities who are all determined to stamp out these repugnant practices.

“We will not stop in our pursuit of those criminals who believe it is acceptable to profit from using vulnerable people as commodities, often in some of the most brutal ways imaginable.

"Your information counts and by working together we can put an end to modern slavery and labour abuse for good.”

Read more: Will Brexit hinder Yorkshire’s efforts to tackle human trafficking?
Neil Wain, international programme director at Hope for Justice and former Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, said: “Traffickers often prevent victims from seeking help through the use of fear as a weapon, and manipulating them to distrust the authorities – in particular the police and government.

"As an independent charity with experience working closely with victims of modern slavery, Hope for Justice is able to build trust with victims so they feel safe to share what has happened to them.

"We are committed to working with West Yorkshire Police and other forces to encourage victims to access vital help and start the process of recovery.”

Call police on 101 or the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 to report any suspicions about human trafficking or modern slavery.