YEP Says, August 30: Slavery is still alive and kicking, two centuries after ban

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...and United’s need for stability on and off the pitch

YORKSHIRE’S own William Wilberforce was the leading voice of the abolition movement, his campaign heaping pressure on Parliament to the point where it finally moved to outlaw slavery in 1833. Or so the history books tell us.

The grim reality is that even now, slavery still exists. Yorkshire is ‘home’ to hundreds of men, women and children who, having fallen into the hands of traffickers, have been coerced into lives of exploitation.

Yet these poor individuals remain invisible to both the authorities and members of the public – for the simple reason that we don’t know what to look for.

Latest figures show that police in West Yorkshire responded to more human trafficking cases than anywhere else outside London in the first three months of 2014. Last November, a major police investigation led to 17 people being rescued from suspected exploitation at addresses across Leeds. And this is merely the tip of a very large iceberg.

It is why the city has now been chosen for the launch of a strategy to end human trafficking. However, if that is to happen then agencies such as the police and councils must be given training so they recognise this practice when they see it. The public also need to be far better informed than at present.

A new Slavery Bill will next year make the reporting of human trafficking a legal duty, but unless we know how to spot it in the first place it will be pointless.

United in desperate need of some stability

DAVE Hockaday, it would be fair to say, was not many people’s choice as the man to take charge of Leeds United. And while plenty were willing to give him a chance, the results speak for themselves.

His departure, after just 70 days, was sadly all too predictable. Less certain is who will now be prepared to take on the Elland Road hotseat.

While Massimo Cellino’s ambition of getting United into the Premier League is shared by every Leeds fan, the reality is that the club still appears to lack solid foundations for the future.

That’s not just damaging to the team’s chances on the pitch but the prestige and prospects of the whole city.

Ann Maguire

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