A Problem Worldwide and in Wilts and Dorset

by Gerry Lynch last modified 06 May, 2015 02:01 PM

Diocese Hosts Major Conference on Slavery, Child Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking

A Problem Worldwide and in Wilts and Dorset

From left to right: Lindy Cameron, Diocese of Salisbury Youth Advisor; Angus Macpherson, Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon; Jamie Fyleman, Head of Church Relations at Tearfund.

The Diocese of Salisbury hosted a major conference in the Wiltshire city today on the challenging issues of child sexual exploitation, slavery and human trafficking.

The conference took place at Sarum Academy, and saw church representatives team up with local police experts, Christian charity Tearfund, and the Salvation Army to equip delegates to take action. In addition there was live drama, films, music and reflections.

Delegates learned both about global aspects of exploitation and how better to identify both child and adult victims locally in Wiltshire and Dorset.

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Right Revd Nicholas Holtam, gave the keynote address at the conference. Speaking afterwards, he reflected, “The Christian tradition holds that all people are worthy of dignity and children hold an honoured place. That is the framework in which we are discussing issues which have local, national and international dimensions. At international level, we saw over 300, maybe as many as 900 people, die last week when the boat carrying them sank in the Mediterranean. The present debate on migration is very heated.

“At the local level, police reckon 80 children in Wiltshire and Swindon have been at risk of Child Sexual Exploitation, are at risk now, or are victims.”

Angus Macpherson, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, helped fund the event. He said, “This event has been some time in the making. It shows we haven’t buried our head in the sand about this issue in Wiltshire, but there is always a danger of complacency. The recent arrests on suspicion of human trafficking in Semington show that there can be no complacency. Today was primarily aimed at tackling complacency, and I’m glad people from churches will be taking key messages back into our communities.”

Jamie Fyleman, Head of Church Relations at Christian charity Tearfund, was another keynote speaker, and said, “The reality is that child trafficking is growing massively; it’s currently the fastest growing crime in the world. We in Tearfund believe that no child should be trafficked. We are committed to rescuing those who are, but the best form of rescue is prevention.”

Hillary Bond, the school and children’s worker for the Parish of Wareham in Dorset, was one of the grassroots Christians attending the conference. She echoed the theme of local awareness, saying, “As well as looking at trafficking across the world, it’s important to be aware that this could be happening in our own neighbourhoods.”

Learn more about Tearfund’s work to stop child trafficking globally at www.tearfund.org/nochildtaken

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