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Support service for victims of slavery and exploitation to continue

The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld, is pleased to announce that a pilot project which has been supporting victims of slavery and exploitation in Oxford and Reading will be continuing.

The project, which is run by Elmore Community Services in Oxford and The Mustard Tree in Reading, received funding from the PCC last year for a pilot service.

The service provides Independent Trauma Advisors (ITA) who offer immediate crisis intervention and emotional support to victims of exploitation, and help integrate victims of trafficking and human exploitation into further services as required. It also provides operational support before, and throughout, police raids or other activity designed to disrupt and prevent modern day slavery.

The pilot has already seen positive results and the PCC is pleased to be able to continue to support this project in the future after being awarded funding towards the cost of the service from the national Police Innovation Fund.

The PCC has been awarded £264,160 from the Police Innovation Fund over the next two years with the PCC contributing the remaining £183,566 required to fund the service for another two years.

Anthony Stansfeld, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley said: “It has quickly become apparent how valuable this service is in supporting victims of slavery and exploitation, and I am delighted that I can continue to support it in the future.

“Tackling human exploitation in all its forms and helping support the victims of this serious crime is an increasing concern across all agencies.

“The Independent Trauma Advisors (ITA) not only provide support to the victim, which is hugely beneficial,  but early evidence suggests that without ITA support the likelihood of disclosure is greatly reduced.  The ITA support is proving critical to effective policing modern day slavery.”

Alice Copping, CEO of Elmore Community Services said: “Recent events have uncovered an uncomfortable underbelly of physical and sexual exploitation in Oxfordshire with as  yet no definitive understanding of the extent of these horrible practices  which  have such devastating consequences for the victims.

“This funding means that Elmore’s Independent Trauma Advisors can continue, and expand, the essential work that we have been doing over the past year - supporting victims of exploitation with immediate crisis intervention and ongoing practical and emotional support.

“The funding will enable us to support twice as many victims over the coming two years, help to skill up our partner organisations and work closely with these partners to identify more victims of exploitation.”

Lorraine Briffitt, CEO of the Mustard Tree said:  “The Mustard Tree are delighted to have been successful in our joint application to the Police Innovation Fund.Our Rahab project has 10 years of expertise in supporting victims of sexual exploitation, and we are so glad that we can both expand and continue the service we provide.

“This opportunity will enable us to identify and support more victims, and to instil more robust partnerships and pathways in our local area for these vulnerable individuals.”