A BRADFORD based charity hub which has freed hundreds of victims of modern slavery is celebrating the fourth anniversary of its opening today.
The Hope for Justice Investigative Hub is based at a secret location in the district, and works to rescue people from modern slavery in West Yorkshire.
The Bradford investigative hub was the charity’s first, and its model has been replicated in locations including the West Midlands and Tennessee in the US.
It is primarily made up of former police officers and works closely with West Yorkshire Police to identify and rescue slavery victims.
In 2015/16, 35 victims were removed from slavery, and in the year after the hub opened the number of victims identified and rescued by police increased by 190 per cent.
Alongside rescues, its staff also train police officers and others to better identify and help victims, and held 12 sessions last year in the county for police, the NHS, Councils, businesses and others.
Major stories covered in the T&A involving Hope for Justice include a Dewsbury bed factory case where slaves were housed in Bradford, and the setting up of the National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network alongside Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner.
Joel Green, investigative team leader, said the hub deals with two to three victims of slavery each week.
The former police officer said: “We have had very positive support, we have an information sharing agreement with West Yorkshire Police and work alongside their trafficking unit.
“Our work is essential, a lot of the victims we come across are very distrustful of the police and we’re the only port of call to get people out.
“We do a lot of work on building trust so they can go to the police - we act as a bridge.”
Mr Burns-Williamson said: “Hope for Justice are a key organisation in raising awareness, providing expertise and giving the best support to victims.
“They are also playing a key role in helping to coordinate the work of both the West Yorkshire and National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network.
“I congratulate them on their fourth anniversary, and look forward to continuing to work with them and other partners in dealing with these crimes and abuses.
“I thank them for the difference they have made in West Yorkshire and further afield in this fight against human trafficking and modern slavery.”
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