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Humberside Police wins at major PR awards for Modern Day Slavery campaign

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In July last year, Humberside Police launched Operation Wilberforce, an operation dedicated to protecting vulnerable people being exploited into modern day slavery.

Alongside that, they launched a media campaign, with the help of Bluestorm, titled ‘What do you see?’, specifically looking to raise awareness with the public of the key signs to spot that someone is a victim of modern day slavery.

Today, that campaign won Public Sector Campaign of the Year at the national PRMoment Awards, beating entries from councils, healthcare partnerships and BIDs across the UK.

Detective Chief Inspector Christine Calvert, Modern Day Slavery lead at Humberside Police, said: “I am enormously proud of the team who have worked on this campaign and operation.

“Modern day slavery is often a hidden crime, and without knowing the signs to spot it, it would be hard for members of the public to recognise. The main aim of this campaign was to raise awareness of those signs, to increase reporting into us and ultimately safeguard those vulnerable people being exploited.

“This has absolutely achieved that, with more than 341 reports in the first year, 76 arrests and 120 victims protected and rehabilitated.

“Operation Wilberforce is continuing to protect people and bring those to justice who think it’s acceptable to exploit others for their personal gain, with the help of 60 partner agencies including the Humber Modern Slavery Partnership, funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

“It is great to know that this campaign has been recognised nationally, but most importantly that we have been able to have an impact within our communities.”

Laura Greendale, Head of Strategy and Communications at Bluestorm, commented: “Launching a public engagement campaign during a pandemic, when COVID-19 communications dominated, was always going to be challenging. We had to cut through the noise and provoke thought, understanding and action around modern day slavery and human trafficking.

“Our collaborative working with the Humberside Police team allowed us to delve into the complex subject matter and these insights paid off. The messaging, creative and channels we chose aligned to create a campaign with impact, despite the difficult timing.

“Together, we’ve delivered a campaign with a difference – that is making a difference in protecting vulnerable people. The fact that this work has been recognised within our industry is an added bonus.”

Judging the category, Julia Hutton-Potts, director international communications, EMEA, Alibaba Group, said: “Shining a spotlight on unseen crimes-with a powerful, thought-provoking creative, delivered through multiple channels, to reach target audiences. Grounded in sharp insights, this campaign really cut through. A hard-hitting campaign driving real impact. Great job team.”

To find out more about Operation Wilberforce, and the signs you should be looking out for that someone is being exploited in this way, click here.

If you suspect modern day slavery or have concerns about a vulnerable person, please call 101. Alternatively you can direct your call anonymously via the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 121 700 or Crimestoppers on 0800 111 555.

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