Llandudno Junction conference on response to violence and slavery

A FIRST-of-its-kind conference has taken place in Llandudno Junction to look at how different agencies and organisations from police through health and social services can come together to tackle cases of domestic violence and modern slavery in North Wales.

The event, called “All for One”, was held at the Conwy Business Centre and was organised by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, building on the work of the North Wales Vulnerability and Exploitation Board in this area.

The board has published a strategy up to 2024 with the vision that “the people of North Wales can live safe, equal and violence-free lives, in communities without fear, abuse or exploitation”.

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The organisers recognised how important it is that different partners come together to challenge violence against women, domestic abuse, sexual violence, modern slavery, and human trafficking and exploitation.

All for One looked at what is being done, and what can be further done, to tackle these crucial matters across our region.

The audience included 100 representatives from across the emergency services, councils, health and social care services, education, support groups, and the voluntary sector.

The event was facilitated by Stephen Hughes, chief executive of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and chair of the North Wales Vulnerability and Exploitation Board.

Keynote speakers included Nicole Jacobs, domestic abuse commissioner for England and Wales; and ITV presenter Ruth Dodsworth, who discussed her own experience of living in an abusive and coercive relationship.

There were two case study sessions to give delegates a first-hand insight into modern slavery and domestic abuse, and how different agencies can work as one to help victims.

The first case study involved a panel with members drawn from North Wales Police, the Crown Prosecution Service, and Barnardo’s.

It looked at a complex human trafficking investigation involving a young person being used as part of a County Lines drugs network.

The second case study was from Colwyn Bay domestic abuse survivor and campaigner, Jess Russell, who recounted her traumatic experiences of living in an abusive relationship for 18 years.

Jess gave audience members advice on signs of abuse to look out for, and shared examples of where authorities could have helped her more at the time her abuse was occurring.

All for One also saw the launch of the Modern Slavery Multi-Agency Practice Guidance for North Wales by deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, Wayne Jones, and Anwen Huws, service manager (safeguarding and quality), of Anglesey County Council.

Modern slavery can encompass domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, forced labour and criminal exploitation.

This guidance is for professionals working with victims and includes an outline of the referral pathways in place to help those who have suffered.

It also lists what each organisation and individual’s responsibilities are.

The guidance is being introduced as victims of modern slavery and human trafficking should be given protection, provided with the help they need to recover from their experiences and gain access to the justice they deserve.

Nicole Jacobs said: “I am delighted to see this multi-agency approach to tackle domestic abuse in North Wales.

“I really believe the best way that we can support and help victims is to have a co-ordinated community response which has survivors at its core.

“We all have a role to play to tackle this heinous crime that blights so many lives across England and Wales and events like this go a long way to underpin that approach.”

Ruth Dodsworth added: “It was such an honour to be able to share my story with so many people across the many sectors in North Wales.

“We have to keep talking, so that my experience of domestic abuse and the journey that follows, is raised at all levels.

“It’s so important that our emergency services and other agencies are aware of the signs of offending, and also the responsibilities they have to people like myself to make a difficult situation better.

“Coercive control is insidious, and the impact is devastating, so to be able to openly discuss the subject will hopefully encourage others to come forward and break the chains of domestic abuse.”

Andy Dunbobbin, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, said: “Our vision was that this new conference would contribute in a powerful and meaningful way to highlighting the work being done in communities across the area to tackle vulnerability and exploitation.

“I am sure all who attended learnt a lot from the inspiring speakers about how effective intervention works and how it can be better managed to deliver the desired outcome for victims.

“It is the victim who is at the heart of my plan for fighting crime in North Wales and who should always be at the heart of all we do as professionals working in our field.”

North Wales Pioneer | Llandudno