We take the issue of safeguarding very seriously and are committed to implementing a safeguarding policy and procedures, accepting as a minimum the House of Bishops’ policy, ‘Protecting All God’s Children’(4th edition 2010).
In addition the parish is committed to following diocesan procedures and recommended good practice, whilst being responsive to local parish requirements.
Diocesan Policy on Safeguarding Children http://www.rochester.anglican.org/content/pages/documents/1426867722.pdf
Diocesan Policy on Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults http://www.rochester.anglican.org/content/pages/documents/1426867767.pdf
Modern Day Slavery
Notes from Rochester Diocesan Conference on 16th June 2018
Made in God’s image
Human beings are made in God’s image and are precious to Him. The church is committed to the Safeguarding of all and is determined to act to prevent and stop the oppression of others in what is termed “modern slavery”.
Safeguarding the weak and the vulnerable is at the heart of the Gospel. Jesus said he came to “ preach Good news to the poor, to heal the broken hearted, , to announce that captives be set free, the downtrodden freed from their oppressors.” Luke 4 :18-19. He also said that we should tend to the needs of others, as if we were doing it for Him “ I was hungry and you fed me… I was naked and you clothed me, sick and in prison and you visited me” Matt 25:34- 46.
Rochester Diocese is partnered with the Clewer Initiative to combat Modern Slavery and will be training up champions to raise awareness in all our churches. There will be special services on 18th October ( Freedom Sunday ) to highlight this evil amongst us.
What is modern slavery?
People working who are being exploited and controlled by someone. People who have been coerced, deceived, forced. Often they have been trafficked and are always treated very badly.
Most of the 13,000 + victims of modern slavery in the UK are working in legitimate businesses. The businesses have usually subcontracted the work to an agency. The agency is the one abusing the workers and keeping their wages.
Modern slavery is driven by the need to make money and to drive down prices. The victims are commodities and are put to work 24/7.
Having worked all day in “legitimate businesses” victims are often forced to work at night doing illegal things such as forced prostitution, working in cannabis farms, pick pocketing, burglary.
The victims may be crammed into properties on ordinary housing estates, working in businesses in our towns
To keep a person in Modern slavery is a criminal offence, carrying a life sentence. Victims who have been forced to commit illegal acts by their oppressors, have a statutory defence and will not be prosecuted, instead they are given 45 days care at a victims centre. ( note : this is not enough . Traumatised victims need much more help than is provided by the state)
- Domestic servitude
- Construction sites
- food processing plants,
- fishing ( remember the cockle pickers in Morecambe)
- hospitals – removal of organs for transplant from a live “donor”
- Organised criminal gangs
- Unscrupulous business owners
- Family members
- Church people
The victims have few or no personal effects. They have no access to mobile phones or if they have one, no way to top up. ( the ones with the phones are usually the ones in charge) They have no access to ID documents. They don’t even know where they live. They are given a script to answer enquiries. They enter through the back of properties. Slave masters often rent a house for a month or so and then move on. They cram as many of the victims in as possible.
People are vulnerable for many reasons :–
- Poverty, lack of opportunity and the promise of a better life ( the Chinese cockle pickers paid thousands of pounds to work in the UK on a promise of good jobs. Their families are still paying off the debt to the traffickers)
- Previous abuse and hope to escape – Life is so awful that they take a chance but are being deceived into worse.
- Family debt
- Mental of physical ill health
How it’s done
Trafficking – People who have been trafficked into the UK with the promise of a good job and a new life. They often don’t speak English so cannot ask for help. However they would be afraid to ask anyway. The perpetrators tell them what to say if anyone asks them a question.
Passports– These are taken away. The trafficked people have to work 7 days a week and may not be fed or clothed properly. They will receive either no wages or very small wages that are taken by the perpetrator “to repay a debt incurred for bringing them to the UK”.
Debt – The perpetrator will say the victim owes them thousands of pounds. Additionally, the perpetrator will set up bank accounts in the victims’ names and take their wages. Often they take out loans in the victims’ names, so load on more debt to the victims.
Violence -The victims may be beaten, raped or threatened with death by their employer .
They are controlled by fear, – threats against their family back home, lies about their immigration status ( many are EU nationals with a right to work here but have been told they face arrest) fear of beatings or “disappearing”. Fear of the debt which the perpetrator keeps adding to. ( money for being brought to UK, money for accommodation, money for each place of work and threats to family if it isn’t worked off.
Living conditions are usually appalling. – a house with mattresses on the floor, “ hot bedding” – someone in the bed day time, someone at night. Beaten, starved, inadequately clothed
Dependency – They may be controlled by drugs or alcohol. The perpetrators “reward them” them by giving them drugs or alcohol once a week.
Deceit – The victims are lied to , tricked, given false promises and even false threats e.g. telling Eastern Europeans they are here illegally when under the EU they have a right to be here
Fear – Threats are made against them and their families if they don’t comply with all the commands of the perpetrators.
Isolation – They often can’t speak English and in any case they are not allowed to speak to the general public. They may not trust Police.
Grooming – Some victims may not even know they are being used. E.g. the girls passed between Asian men e.g. boys becoming drug couriers for gang leaders in London and using a vulnerable person’s home as their base. This is called “cuckooing”
Picking up the vulnerable- Homeless people – People with mental health problems initially offered kindness and then finding themselves controlled , exploited, abused and threatened.
- Miriam was abused as a child and then got into an abusive marriage. She was desperate, so when a family at church said that they could help her have a new life in the UK living with a Christian family, she jumped at the chance. However, once in the UK she was made to be a domestic slave. Her passport was taken, she had to do all the work, was not allowed out, was beaten and starved. The couple took her to church but warned her against speaking out. She was 9 years in servitude until she escaped.
- The Chinese cockle pickers. – They paid lots of money to come to the UK for a new life but were then forced to work under the direction of a gang master, accruing more and more debt. The gang master had no regard for their health and safety so was in the pub when the tide came in and drowned them all.
- Foreign workers having been recruited with the promise of good jobs accrue enormous debt. The gang master charges them for their transport to the UK, an arrangement fee for every job he takes them to, for their accommodation (which is usually appalling), transport to work, any equipment they use. The debt becomes bigger and bigger. The gang master also opens up several bank accounts in their names and then gets loans or credit cards where he accrues more debt for the poor worker. The worker can’t speak English and has had his passport taken away. He may be living in filthy conditions, not having warm clothes and not be given food. Such workers can be found on farms, on construction sites, in car washes. The gang master for will usually have a legal contract as an agency supplying labour. The company using the gang master may even think they are paying the workers fairly e.g. They pay money directly into the victims bank account not knowing that the gang master goes with the worker to the cash point and then pockets their money.
- Women trafficked and forced into prostitution and controlled by organized criminal gangs
- Women promised good jobs in the UK but put to work in nail bars, not allowed or able to speak and forced to act as prostitutes at night or to work in cannabis farms.
- Young people and Vulnerable adults involved in drug distribution. The criminal gangs build affection and trust with vulnerable people. Those most susceptible are drug addicts, single mothers, children who have been excluded from school, children from care homes. BME groups are most at risk of being targeted.
- Workers have injuries
- They are malnourished
- They are withdrawn – reluctant to speak
- They do not make eye contact
- They may have poor hygiene ( no washing facilities)
- They may wear clothes unsuitable for what they are doing e.g. car wash workers in thin t shirts and plimsolls in winter ( cases of trench foot have been found in victims working in car washes
- They may wear the same clothes every day
- They may be dependent on drugs or alcohol
- One person has the mobile phone and everyone does what he says
- They do not know where they live
- They are fetched to and from work in a van
What’s being done?
Modern Slavery is a criminal offence and there is a dedicated team under the Home Office with powers to investigate and prosecute instances of modern slavery. ( the Gang Masters and Labour abuse Authority- GMLAA). The Police are also becoming more aware and more proactive in combating this abuse.
Care for Rescued Victims
There is a huge gap in provision.
- The State provides counseling and financial aid for 45 days. If a person has been trafficked and does not have legal right to stay, they can remain whilst the court case is going on but then may be deported.
- There are a few charities trying to give long term support , counselling and practical aid to victims e.g. the Snowdrop Project in Sheffield
The Response of Churches
Led by Bishop Alastair of Derby, the Church of England is committed to working with the Clewer initiative, the GMLAA and the others to combat modern slavery. The Clewer Initiative says “we see you”
- Raising awareness so that people see what is going on and report it. Invisible victims become visible.
- Our “out of the way premises” can be used for interviews with victims .
- We can provide a safe place and friendship for rehabilitation