Taking a Stand Against Human Trafficking
Residents of South Tyneside are being asked to spare a thought for victims of trafficking this Saturday on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.
To mark the international awareness day South Shields Town Hall will be lit up blue.
Human trafficking - also known as modern day slavery - is a crime that exploits women, children and men for numerous purposes, including forced labour and sex, and is the world's fastest growing global crime.
South Tyneside Council was one of the first in the country to develop a comprehensive strategy to identify, prevent and tackle these types of crimes. The strategy identifies the actions that can be taken across the Council to help eliminate risks of slavery in the organisation and its supply chains.
The theme of this year's awareness day focuses on the role of technology as a tool that can both enable and impede human trafficking.
Councillor Ruth Berkley, Lead Member for the Voluntary Sector, Partnerships and Equalities, said: "The global expansion in the use of technology, intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic, has made it easier for traffickers to recruit, exploit and control victims. Traffickers use social media to identify, groom and recruit victims, including children."
She added: "While South Tyneside has had little exposure to modern slavery, we cannot afford to be complacent. We are committed to doing all we can to reduce the risks of slavery within our organisation and our supply chains, from awareness raising and training among staff to ensuring we have robust recruitment policies and responsible procurement procedures in place.
"We will continue to work with our partners and suppliers to stamp out these exploitative practices. But we also need our residents to be our eyes and ears and report any activity they feel may be linked to slavery."
Anyone who witnesses any suspicious activity is urged to call the Police in the first instance or 999 in an emergency. Information can also be reported to the Modern Day Slavery helpline on 0800 0121 700 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Anyone who suspects that a child is at risk of harm or abuse or is being trafficked or enslaved in South Tyneside can call South Tyneside's Children Safeguarding Team on 0191 424 5010 (or 456 2093 outside normal office hours). For concerns relating to an adult, call the Let's Talk Team on 0191 424 6000 (or 456 2093 outside normal office hours).