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Herefordshire's Serious Organised Crime Partnership Conference Success

Yesterday (Wednesday 26 September), West Mercia Police hosted its Serious and Organised Crime (SOC) Partnership Conference, in Hereford Town Hall, to raise awareness and understanding of the new Protect campaign that is looking to target and disrupt organised crime within West Mercia and Warwickshire Policing areas.

protect conference

The conference, opened by Superintendent Sue Thomas, PCC John Campion and ACC Martin Evans welcomed in excess of 130 delegates from various agencies across Herefordshire including Herefordshire Council, Herefordshire Children's Safeguarding Board, Herefordshire Children's Services, Security Industry, Hereford CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group), Probation, West Mercia Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre, NHS and Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service.

Delegates were given an in-depth and informative talk by Chief Inspector Carl Moore about what crimes fall into the broad concept of SOC such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, fraud including cyber-crime, counterfeit money and goods, organised acquisitive crime, modern day slavery/ labour exploitation, Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and supply of firearms.

The conference also included an emotive account from Sammy Woodhouse, who is one of the 1,400 survivors who were groomed, abused and failed in Rotheram. She gave a frank account of her story and how she believes multiple agencies need to work together, putting the victim at the centre of the approach to tackling CSE and SOC.

Former gang member - Gwenton Sloley, now author of 'The Streets to Scotland Yard', gave a vivid insight into the emotional associations to gang related crime, how grooming can start at a young age, for him just 8 years old, and how he managed to get out of the dangerous lifestyle when he was provided an opportunity by an officer from his local police force to become a youth mentor. It was just the opportunity he needed, gave him the same euphoric feelings and helped to turn his life around.

Superintendent Sue Thomas said: "We are really pleased with the number of agencies that attended the conference and engaged with our new campaign - Protect, to tackle serious organised crime together."

The speakers were all very insightful especially Sammy Woodhouse and Gwenton Sloley who gave personal accounts of their involvement with serious organised crime and he effects it had and continues to have on them."

She continued: "We want to work with all our local partners to provide the best possible service to those that are victims and vulnerable community members as well as problem solve new ways to disrupt and tackle serious organised crime."

Herefordshire, led the way in its multi-agency approach to tackling criminality with the launch of the inaugural scheme called Multi Agency Targeted Enforcement (MATES), the activity is led by Sargent Duncan Reynolds, who gave an account of how the scheme has grown from strength to strength, targeting illegal activity in Herefordshire such as illegal sale of tobacco products, human trafficking and more. The targeted work with partners including HWFRS, Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, Immigration, Trading Standards and Herefordshire Council has yielded positive results since its 2016 inception and is now set up across the whole of West Mercia Police.

The delegates finished off the day by submitting a pledge of support to the Protect campaign and ultimately work together to protect the Herefordshire community from harm and disrupt criminal behaviour.

Issued: 12.30pm, Thursday 27 September, MC, Corporate Communications

Published 27/09/18