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PCCs welcome UN Gift Box’s arrival to the North East

3rd March 2016

The three PCCs from across the North East are welcoming the UN Gift Box to our region for the first time, as part of a global ‘Stop the Traffik’ campaign aimed at educating people about modern day slavery.

The box is being hosted in the region by Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland (SIGBI) and is being unveiled at the central City Library in Newcastle on Friday, 4 March at 11 am.

The unique gift box is an enormous vibrant piece of street art decorated with invites and promises and welcoming people inside. Inside the sculpture, however, people are presented with a very different reality where sexual exploitation and human trafficking themes are illustrated.

The idea of the box is to raise awareness of the issue of human trafficking and encourage people to support the campaign.

The sculpture will be on display until Tuesday, March 8 – which coincides with United Nations’ International Women’s Day.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird, said: “The Gift box concept has travelled the world and now it’s making its first appearance in the North East. It really is an effective way of opening up conversation about such an important issue. We often need reminding – slavery isn’t confined to the past – it’s a very real issue happening across the world, here in the UK and often closer to home than people realise.

“We need to ensure people who are caught up in such terrible situations have access to the help and safety they need and that is why I, along with my fellow PCC colleagues in the North East, have incorporated human trafficking into our regional Violence Against Women and Girls strategy. This sets out to assess the extent of trafficking for sexual exploitation in our area, raise the profile of the issue and encourage the reporting of the cases. We are very thankful to Soroptimist International for arranging the box to be brought here so we can all do our bit to raise the issue at a local level.”

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland Barry Coppinger added: “This is a great opportunity to bring to the fore the huge amount of harm caused by human traffickers which in the main is unseen by the majority of people.  These unscrupulous people use coercion, deception and abduction to exploit the vulnerable.  There is a huge amount of  work being done in this region to aid victims of such abuse and the sculpture is a great way of bringing this very important issue right into the heart of the community, and encourage those in need of support to gain the confidence to come forward.”

Durham Police and Crime Commissioner, Ron Hogg, said: “We all have a responsibility to recognise the needs and interests of victims of human trafficking: men, women and children who are being enslaved against their will. Durham Constabulary is working in partnership with the immigration services, HM Revenues and Customs, the Fire and Rescue Service and the local authorities to identify and safeguard the victims of human trafficking, and to bring the perpetrators to justice. Local people and businesses can really contribute by reporting to the Police any information or suspicions that human trafficking may be taking place.”

UN Gift box