News and Articles
12 November 2012
This Thursday, 15 November, we have the opportunity to take part in the Police and Crime Commissioner elections for Hampshire. Let’s make an effort to pray for the elections and to vote. To help your thinking, here’s a bit about why we should engage with this and some thoughts from some of the candidates for Hampshire.
As Christians we have a firm belief in the value of human life. We believe that God made us in his own image (Genesis 1:27) and so every human being is of immeasurable value to him. As a result of our belief, we are horrified at the ongoing plight of human trafficking in the world today, and much of it happening right here in the UK - even in Southampton. Just as great Christians like William Wilberforce stood up against the terrible act of slavery and the slave trade, we stand up today against this modern slavery of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Many people will be aware of the upcoming election in Hampshire and Isle of Wight to elect the first Police and Crime Commissioner. We would encourage everybody to visit this website to find out more about the elections and the candidates who are standing.
Close to home a group of church leaders from across Southampton, including us here at Above Bar Church, wrote to each of the PCC candidates to say what we think about the issue of Human Trafficking and what we would like them to do. You can read the letter below, and we will post up all the replies we receive from the candidates as we receive them.
Profiles and contact details for all the candidates in Hampshire and Isle of Wight can be found through this BBC webpage.
Letter to the candidates
Dear Hampshire & Isle of Wight Police Commissioner Candidates,
We are writing to you as a group of church leaders in the Southampton area to express our concern about the reality of human trafficking and sexual exploitation in our city and country and to seek your views on the matter.
One of the great achievements of our country’s history was successfully leading the way in the abolition of the slave trade some 200 years ago. However, despite this great historical victory, slavery still exists in a very real, and very terrible way right in our own streets. human trafficking is the fastest growing form of international crime with an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 people being trafficked across international borders every year. Indeed, researchers at Hull University estimate that as many as 4,000 children and 10,000 women have been smuggled into the UK in the past 10 years along to be exploited by the underground sex industry.
We are sure you will agree with us that there is no greater indignity and violation of a person’s human rights than to be bought and sold in this way. We therefore urge you to commit to seeing this view reflected in Hampshire Constabulary’s priorities. In this country we are very fortunate to have very good anti-trafficking legislation and legislation prohibiting purchasing sex from those who are coerced, however we are seeking reassurance that you would ensure that these measures are given adequate priority in Hampshire. It concerns us to note that the Hampshire Constabulary local policing plan makes no reference at all to the issue of human trafficking.
In light of all these points, we call on you to:
- Commit to prioritising the enforcement of the law in this area, in particular Section 14 of the Policing and Crime Act 2009, which prohibits paying for sex with someone who is coerced
- Commit to increase the proportion of the Hampshire Constabulary budget given to tackling human trafficking and to ensure more effective investigation, awareness with the force and enforcement of the law in Hampshire
- Commit to the delivery of training on human trafficking amongst all operational police staff
- Ensure the creation of a Single Point of Contact (SPOC) for human trafficking and sexual exploitation within the Constabulary
- Set targets related to challenging trafficking and sexual exploitation so as to raise the issue up the operational agenda
We believe that these are some simple ways in which you as a Police and Crime Commissioner can make a material difference to the lives of the many women and children who are victims of this most terrible modern day slavery.
We are eager to hear a response from you on these issues and we look forward to creating further dialogue in the future.
Please be assured of our ongoing prayers for you all in your candidacy,
Rev John Chandler, Parish Priest, St Edmunds RC Church
Rev Des Connolly, Chair, Medaille Trust
Rt Rev Dr Jonathan Frost, Bishop of Southampton
Chris Halls, Associate Minister, Highfield Church
Rt Rev Mgr Vincent Harvey VG, Roman Catholic Coordinating Pastor
Duncan House, Southampton City Mission
John Risbridger, Senior Minister, Above Bar Church
Paul Webber, Minister, Above Bar Church
Bev Webb, Church Leader, City Life Church
Paul Woodman, Church Leader, City Life Church
Response from Don Jerrard
Thank you for your email with attached letter. I am sorry that I have not replied before but your letter was so important that I wanted to give it the time needed for a full and considered reply. The matters raised in the letter go right to the core of why I decided to stand in this election, and why I believe it is critically important that I am elected as the first PCC for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight on Thursday.
As documents for you to refer to I am attaching four documents from my election material, namely my profile, the press release of my candidature, my manifesto and my flyer. The flyer should have been circulated to every household in Hampshire and the IOW at my expense but the company contracted to do so has let me down so far. The government did not allow a freepost, which was quite disgraceful.
As you will see from my profile I come from a family which has always been dedicated to the benefits of education and child welfare. My father was an academic physicist at Southampton University for most of his working life.
My sister was a university administrator, in Bristol. Both my father (an only child) and my mother’s brother went to Tauntons School, and one of my two cousins is now a visiting professor at Southampton University. Perhaps most importantly my mother’s first cousin, Doris Corps, was a spinster all her life, living near the Peartree Church. Doris became a Deputy Headmistress at a girls school in Southampton, and wrote the history of Peartree Church, the first consecrated Anglican Church in England, and therefore the world! I only found all this out when it fell upon me to arrange Doris' funeral service four years ago. She was a very modest and much loved lady, who, incidentally left almost all her estate to children’s charities.
So I am sure you will understand why I am so passionate about doing something lasting for the City, as it now is, wher I was born and the County where I have lived for most of my life. However it was the comments about people trafficking and sexual exploitation which have made it so important that I write this email to you. As you will see I had a very successful career as a practising lawyer, which left me in the position after my early retirement to pursue my personal quest to help people get justice, especially those who have been the victims of bullying and abuse of power.
Sadly I have found myself dealing with exactly the points raised in the letter. I have dealt with a number of cases where young people have been brought into the country for sexual exploitation, and quite simply have been unable to get help from the police and other agencies in Hampshire in dealing with this. The reason, quite bluntly, is that there are too many local politicians and senior members of the legal profession involved in this, several of whom have been convicted in recent years, but not enough.
You can therefore be assured that I am determined to do just what you call on me to do in your letter. Furthermore I believe I am the only candidate with the qualifications, experience and resolve to do this. That is actually the reason why I determined to take no salary if elected on Thursday. It a personal passion for me to do this job, as best I can, but I will need help from all the church leaders in Southampton and Hampshire, and I know that.
It is only three days before the election now, so please would you be so good as to see if I can come down to Southampton as soon as possible and meet as many of your group as would be able to do so. This is of huge importance to me, so please telephone me to see if something can be arranged. Obviously I should be grateful if you would forward this email and attachments to your group.
With best wishes, and thanks for your ongoing prayers. I am not religious but I hope you will appreciate that I have a very strong feeling for what is right and what is wrong, and also a strong sense that we are all put on this earth for a purpose.
Response from Michael Mates
Thank you for your letter on behalf of church leaders in Southampton. I agree with you that human trafficking and sex slavery are abhorrent crimes and have no place in our society. So I will most certainly ensure that it is properly tackled where it arises in the two counties. I raised the subject when i was briefed by the Area Chief Superintendent in Southampton a couple of weeks ago.
I cannot yet comment on the sufficiency of funds allocated to this area, because we have not been allowed to see the books before the election. But I can promise that I will look at that specifically if i am elected. I do think it might be sensible for there to be a single point of contact, but that is a matter for the Chief Constable who remains in operational control of his force. I will look into the whole issue of contact between the police and the public; and that is going to be one of the major improvements when there is a single, elected and accountable person you can go to with problems such as these.
I am greatly looking forward to the challenge - but first I must win!
With best wishes to you all
Response from David Goddall
Thanks for the email. In reply I thought the leaders of the churches in Southampton as also be interested in my views on a couple of other relevant subjects preaching in public and streetpastors.
I am of course very much against human trafficking of any kind, it has quite rightly been referred to as modern day slavery. For a while this problem has been highlighted "stop the traffik" campaign, which I first came across a number of years ago because of a presentation by the teenage Sunday school group at church.
Currently I believe only the Met has a specialist anti-human trafficking unit and the establishment of such a unit has proven to increase successful action against the gangs behind the trafficking.
As Commissioner, I would be keen to fully understand the scale of this problem in Hampshire and to what ‘trades’ the people been trafficked are used in. Currently the two obvious ones are the sex and drug trades, and these will both require different approaches.
Within Hampshire Constabulary there is Public Protection Department and it is their expressed aim to be “at the cutting edge of challenging and confronting child exploitation in all its forms”. Therefore my policy would be to see whether this unit performs the role of a specialist anti-human trafficking unit or whether such a unit needs to be established, either within Hampshire on its own or in conjunction with another force.
With respect to the budget spent on this until I get my hands on the books I don’t know if the level of funding is correct and therefore I also don’t know how much more funding is required. Therefore I don’t believe it would be right for me to increase funding for this at this stage, particularly as the funding from central government for the Police is not going to be decided until December.
On the people in the human trafficking trade my policy would be to work on the principle of prosecution for those trafficking and helping those that have been trafficked. This help would normally be assistance to return to their home country however this has to be done carefully because otherwise the person often gets trafficked straight back.
Key to addressing this problem is getting all the relevant agencies working together on it, as this is clearly a cross county and international border issue. And it is also my policy to promote as much co-operation as possible.
Freedom to Preach in public
There is a general email that I have received on this subject and how the freedom to preach could be seen to be restricted by new equality laws.
As a Christian I can fully understand the concern about the issue of how to preach in public when some of God’s word is difficult for those who hear to understand, particularly if the people hearing it have no understanding at all about Christian language or the bible.
I am a member at Thornhill Baptist Church in Southampton. I know when the minister has given a sermon on a difficult area, like relationships, they have always been very careful as to the language they use, particularly as they know members of the church family who have been through very difficult family situations. In my view the main thought should be are the words used spreading the love that Jesus has for everyone or not, if they are spreading that love then it will not be insulting.
Support for Streetpastors
I fully support the great work that the Streetpastors do. In Eastleigh where I am a councillor the local Police reported a significant reduction in anti-social behaviour after the Streetpastors starting parking in the area. If elected I would actively support the network. I see no problem in Streetpastors saying why they are doing this work, providing they have the correct training on how to ‘talk church to the un-churched’.
And I would welcome the input of the Streetpastors network and Christian churches when drawing up the Police and Crime plan. Hopefully the Streetpastors network and Christian churches could have representatives on the Community Advisory panel I plan to have.
For more information this Community Advisory panel see my manifesto which I have attached. I hope this answers your question and gives you some information about where I stand.
Response from Jacqui Rayment
Dear Church Leaders
I have received an email sent on your behalf. Many thanks for taking the time to write to me – very timely.
As I am known to many of you, I hope you appreciate how passionate I am about Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and the work I have done so far to encourage partnership to deal with all crime.
I have had an overwhelming number of email requests to sign up to various campaigns, promising various things on a range of issues.
You ask for a number of commitments and note Hampshire Constabulary Policing Plan makes no mention of Human Trafficking. I will try to deal with each point raised.
The Policing Plan is quite broad and is pulled together from the engagement that takes place across the two counties. There are a number of very important areas of policing not mentioned in it. This is not to say it is not important or taken seriously, as I can assure you Human Trafficking is taken extremely seriously, with some fantastic results in recent years.
Should I be elected as Police and Crime Commissioner on 15 November, I would commit to looking at the issue of Human Trafficking and seeing what is already being achieved, investigate the amount of budget allocation to this area and assure myself that all is being done.
I do not know the structure of the unit in Hampshire Constabulary so I would need to ask questions regarding the issue of SPOCs.
I would like to assure you personally that this is a huge issue for me and one with which I already have a record of providing support to the organisation.
Should I be elected I would want a close relationship with all Faith Groups across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. I suggest to understand the depth of the issue I would arrange a meeting with Senior PO, your representatives and myself, we could include Any other interested parties. This would give us the opportunity to examine the issue from all sides to see what effective action could be taken.
I hope you find this a satisfactory response to your concerns.