Work to combat slavery and human trafficking in Sandwell has been shortlisted for an international Stop Slavery Award.
A number of successful operations to rescue victims and the arrest of criminals has already helped to give Sandwell’s work a regional and national reputation.
Now, the Sandwell Slavery and Human Trafficking Operational Partnership (SHOP) has been shortlisted in the Stop Slavery Collaboration Award.
It is shortlisted along with two other entries in the Thomson Reuters Foundation Award Scheme, for having a collaborative programme that has had a tangible impact.
SHOP has been praised for close partnership work to identify and tackle forced labour, child trafficking, domestic servitude and criminal and sexual exploitation.
Sandwell also featured last year in a BBC One Panorama programme, The Hunt for Britain’s Slave Gangs, which highlighted close partnerships with West Midlands Police and Hope for Justice.
They worked together on an investigation and trial of slave gang members who were jailed for enslaving people in the borough.
SHOP, which has been highlighted in previous award schemes, has been praised by Sandwell Council Leader Councillor Yvonne Davies who, with Chief Executive David Stevens, signed a charter last year pledging to make Sandwell a slavery-free community.
Councillor Davies said: “Sandwell has done some really effective work on these appalling crimes of our time where the most vulnerable people are trapped in the most dreadful situations.
“It is vital that the council works with the police and other partner organisations to combat modern slavery and human trafficking and identify and support the victims and survivors.
“I am very proud of the work being done in Sandwell and that our partnership work is being recognised in a prestigious international award scheme.”
Councillor Davies said it was vital that everyone played a part in spotting any signs of slavery and reported it to the authorities.
Call the confidential Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 if you think you may be a victim of modern slavery, need help to seek safe accommodation and support or have seen something suspicious. People can also report through the Unseen app, which is available to download.
Find more information on signs of slavery and human trafficking to look out for and advice on reporting.
SHOP includes a range of agencies who are able to work together to protect victims, pursue offenders and disrupt modern slavery locations.