Tony Lloyd was speaking out on National Anti-Slavery Day (Saturday 18 October 2014), as Greater Manchester Police finished a week of education and awareness raising of human trafficking and modern slavery.
To commemorate the day, now in its fourth year, the force has conducted a range of unannounced visits to the hospitality industry around the airport and Manchester city centre, collecting any intelligence and educating staff on any warning signs of a victim who has been trafficked.
Officers from the Sexual Crime Unit have also identified locations at risk of both sex and labour exploitation and held a series of harm reduction and reassurance visits, with positive results.
This week also saw a girl trafficked into the country, repeatedly raped and forced to carry out domestic chores awarded more than £100,000 compensation in a landmark legal case.
The payout was secured by GMP using Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) legislation – a result that is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK.
Tony said: “We’ve shaken off our disbelief at the prospect of modern slavery. We know it happens; here in our country, here on our doorsteps. Here in Greater Manchester, just 12 months ago, we listened open-mouthed as we heard about a young deaf girl trafficked to Salford, who was raped and forced to work as a slave. That’s why it’s vital that GMP and partner agencies continue to work together to rid our society of this abhorrent practice.
“The £100,000 awarded to the victim of Ilyas and Tallat Ashar this week cannot undo the horror she’s experienced, but the fact her slavers were brought to justice may bring her some small comfort. We must continue to detect and prosecute individuals guilty of dealing in human misery, and we must do all we can to seek out and rescue those victims still trapped in a life of suffering.”
Detective Inspector Mike Gladwin from the Sexual Crime Unit, who coordinated the week of action, said: “This week has been extremely beneficial. We are grateful for the close cooperation of the hospitality industry, with the sessions arranged extremely well received by all attendees.
“We also received some excellent feedback that many staff are already aware of what to look for in potential victims of human trafficking.
“The message is simple; we are committed to destroying modern slavery in Greater Manchester, whether it through supporting victims, detecting and bringing offenders to justice or providing training to those who may be exposed to the crime as a third party.”