Friday, February 10, 2017

Bristol at the centre of efforts to tackle modern slavery | Business West

Bristol at the centre of efforts to tackle modern slavery | Business West

In 2015, the then Home Secretary Theresa May introduced the Modern Slavery Act to enhance police and CPS powers to tackle a vast swathe of offences related to human trafficking and exploitation.
One year on from gaining Royal Assent, over 200 people had been successfully prosecuted under the Act, who had it not been in place, would otherwise have walked free, due to the often hidden nature of this appalling set of crimes.
Unlikely as it may seem, the Modern Slavery Act didn’t begin life in Westminster’s corridors of power, but 120 miles away in the City of Bristol after a chance discovery prompted Andrew Wallis to contact his local police force to see what measures they had in place to combat slavery.
After a full and frank discussion with a high-ranking police official, Andrew was shocked to discover a series of legal loopholes meant that the authorities were almost powerless to do anything about it.
Having made a pact to do more and tackle these horrendous crimes, Andrew set up a safehouse to help the victims of modern slavery get their lives back on track. After several months running the safe house, Andrew soon began to realise that modern slavery is a problem that spreads far wider than he ever realised, and that charities such as his own were effectively giving a free pass to criminals if they do not tackle the root cause of the problem.
While any lesser mortal might have been perturbed by the mammoth task of lobbying government reform, former retail executive Andrew managed to do just that by authoring the Centre for Social Justice report that ultimately lead to the bill’s passing in Parliament.
Ten years on from when it first started, Andrew’s charity Unseen has gone from strength to strength, and today sits at the centre of a hive of activity in the city to stamp out modern slavery for good.


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