The delegates have re-assembled, and our lovely panel has taken to the stage.
Philip from the Local Authority Safeguarding Children Board, Fiona MacTaggart MP and Richard Martin from MET police are bracing themselves to take questions from the delegates.
Has the trafficking threat around the 2012 Olympics been exaggerated? How much evidence is there to suggest that there’s a link between trafficking and major sporting events? Fiona responds by saying that as with any illegal activity, whether it be illegal immigration, human trafficking or anything else – it is so hard to obtain reliable, all-encompassing statistics. The stakes are too high to run the risk. Whilst there is a real threat of trafficking, that should be enough to both inspire and demand action. And it’s us, the ordinary people in ordinary communities that can take that action most effectively.
If I see a woman and child begging – and I think they may have been trafficked, what should I do? Richard answers this question by first saying that any money they are given will inevitably go straight into the hands of the trafficker. The best course of action is simply to inform the police as soon as possible. He reiterates that it this kind of community intelligence that he and the rest of his police force is hugely reliant upon to tackle the crime.
But what about the hundreds of delegates who’ll be be going back to their communities this evening? What’s the next step?
Bex takes the microphone to explain the Global Travel Alert initiative. It’s an ambitious campaign to directly engage the travel and hospitality industries to recognise and take pro-active steps against trafficking.
So what’s the plan? First, we need communities to map all the accomodation-providers in their area. Using the resources we’ve created, we’re need people to approach each of them in turn and call upon them to ensure their staff are fully aware of the signs of trafficking, and have a clear understanding of what they need to do about it.
But we know that isn’t going to be enough. And that’s where we need to get creative. “You need to create a noise”, Bex says. However you choose to do it, whether it’s recreating a hotel room on the High Street and handing out flyers, we need to get communities and local press on board. Then we can go back to the hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs with real weight behind our ask.
The definitive ‘how-to’ guide to launching a Global Travel Alert in your community will be available soon from the website. http://www.stopthetraffik.org/resources/travelalert/