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National recognition for East Sussex anti-modern slavery group

News   •   Mar 14, 2019 14:46 GMT

A multi-agency East Sussex anti-modern slavery partnership has achieved recognition in a national fraud prevention award scheme.

The East Sussex-based Discovery project pools the skills and resources of investigators from Sussex Police, Hastings Borough Council, Rother District Council, DWP, HMRC, East Sussex Fire and Rescue, the Home Office and other groups, aided by a co-ordinator from the UK's leading anti-slavery charity ‘Stop the Traffik’ – who provides training and awareness on the subject to local organisations and businesses.

On 13 February the project, having been shortlisted from a total of 123 nominations was recognised as runner-up in the Outstanding Collaboration category, in the annual Government Counter Fraud Awards event in London.

Present for Discovery at the event were (left to right); Helin Ozkan (HMRC), Jessica Druiff (Hastings Council), Erica Thompson (DWP), Jowita Romanek (HMRC), Detective Inspector Rob Morland (Sussex Police), Colin Parrack (DWP), Detective Constable Amanda Snashall (Sussex Police), PC Les Golding (Sussex Police), Sara Braker (DWP), Mark Phillips (HMRC), PC Mark Charlton (Sussex Police), Paul Taylor (Hastings Council), Craig Williams (ESFRS) and Sandra Thornton (Hastings Council).

Modern Slavery is mostly hidden, occurring through coercion, manipulation, threats and intimidation. At the heart of this crime is fraud, the promise of work and pay that doesn’t exist in the way it is sold to the victim, the promise of a safe home and a better life, all based on lies and manipulation.

The frauds can include financial abuse, sexual abuse as well as physical and psychological abuse to victims and their families. To combat such widespread criminality requires input from all parts of government and from non-government agencies.

Discovery has worked closely over the past 18 months to identify vulnerable victims of trafficking and slavery, ensuring that they are offered the appropriate support through the National Referral Mechanism.

Members have sought to engage with numerous partner agencies and the local community to educate them on what to look out in identifying suspected victims of modern slavery. Discovery have identified organised crime groups and have disrupted some serous criminality across East Sussex.

The annual Government Counter Fraud Awards celebrate the exceptional work being done to protect public funds in the UK. There are eight Award categories designed to showcase a broad range of counter fraud and anti-corruption cases, initiatives and projects. Launched in 2016, the Awards are hosted by the CIPFA Counter Fraud Centre, the National Crime Agency (NCA), Cabinet Office and City of London Police.

Colin Fitzgerald, lead councillor for environmental services at Hastings Borough Council said: “Through their work with partners the Housing Enforcement Team are identifying and dealing with properties that are often in poor condition, unlicensed and overcrowded.

"Being a partner in Discovery has meant they have been able to work in collaboration with colleagues in other government and statutory agencies and play an important role in helping to identify possible victims of modern slavery and human trafficking."

For more information about the Awards, see the counterfrauds awards website

For more information and advice about modern slavery see the Sussex Police website

For more information about ‘Stop The Traffik’ see their website.