Methodist women back new police action on sex trafficking

By staff writers
March 15, 2007

The Women's Network in the Methodist Church has given its support to the initiatives of the Metropolitan police in launching a fresh project to tackle human trafficking and abuse across London – one of the major centres of this activity.

Following what they describe as “the success of Operation Pentameter”, a national multi-agency venture, Margaret Sawyer, National Secretary for the Women's Network in the British Methodist Church, said: “I am very pleased that the Metropolitan Police Force has now followed up the work that they did last year on the trafficking of women and girls by establishing a more permanent project.”

She added: “This will surely send messages to all those who are intent on abuse and criminal manipulation that their days are numbered.”

Pentameter was the first coordinated effort to tackle human trafficking on a national scale. It involved all 55 Police Forces in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and the Channel Islands – along with the United Kingdom Immigration Service, the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), the Crown Prosecution Service and several NGOs.

The police say they are concerned with the whole range of activity from prevention through to victim care. The initiatives in this area seek to impress on criminal gangs that the UK is a hostile environment for trafficking gangs, as well as focusing more on victims and acting on gathered intelligence in a coordinated global and national way.

Ms Sawyer also made reference to the exhibition at St Paul's Cathedral, ‘Slave Britain’ and to the high profile film due for national release on 23 March, ‘Amazing Grace’ – it has already been premiered in the United States.

She commented: “All people with a social conscience should see this film. They will be inspired by the movie and the exhibition is also deeply moving and troubling. Coming to our attention at the time of the International Women's Day, and so soon after the consultation on the status of women at the United Nations, these two events remind us that women still have a lot to bear in the twenty-first century.”

Others working in the area include CHASTE (Churches Alert on Sex Trafficking in Europe), which was founded in 2004, and has been working with women who are escaping the clutches of the traffickers and “opening up some new possibilities for life, as they recover from the deep and lasting trauma which this form of sex slavery entails.”

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