Watford Borough Council’s Licensing Department spoke at a workshop aimed at increasing awareness of modern slavery.
Increasing awareness of modern slavery and human trafficking among taxi drivers across Hertfordshire was the aim of a training event yesterday (Tuesday January 15).
Representatives from all 10 taxi licencing authorities in the county attended the workshop on January 15, about recognising people who are being trafficked or controlled by other people. This includes within drug trafficking networks, known as County Lines, as well as child sexual exploitation and extremism.
Licensing officers will then be able to raise awareness about these issues among taxi drivers. They will also be able to offer support to drivers who may be being exploited themselves.
The event at Letchworth Library in Letchworth Garden City was hosted by the Hertfordshire Modern Slavery Partnership.
Sue Darker is operations director for adults with disabilities, mental health and autism in Adult Care Service at Hertfordshire County Council and chair of the Partnership’s steering group.
She said: “Hertfordshire is generally a safe place to live and work but exploitation, trafficking and slavery does exist here.
“Taxi drivers are often unwittingly used by criminals to move exploited people from location to location. They also see a broad cross-section of society through their work.
“As a result of this event, licensing officers will better train and support taxi drivers in recognising the signs of exploitation. They in turn will be able to report their concerns to authorities, so that those exploited people can be saved from a life of abuse and mistreatment.”
New window stickers and air fresheners created by the partnership that raise awareness of the signs of exploitation will soon be distributed to taxis and licenced premises in Hertfordshire.
Also speaking at the event alongside Watford Borough Council’s Licensing Department were Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Operation Tropic and the charity, Unseen. Unseen run a national Modern Slavery Helpline and provide information and support to victims and witnesses.
Anyone with concerns or who would like advice about modern slavery or human trafficking should call police via 101 or the national Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700. In an emergency, call 999.