News

'GIFT box' shines spotlight on modern slavery

Merseyside / May 31

Visitors to the Museum of Liverpool will come face-to-face with an 11-foot gift box, which highlights the false promises made by people traffickers to people brought from their home country this week.

The gift box will be on display at the Liverpool Pier Head museum until Friday morning, and will be staffed by police and volunteers from the Salvation Army and the campaign group ‘Stop the Traffik’, who work closely with the United Nations.

The gift box is a walk-in art installation, which shows stories from victims showing the realities of being trafficked, which can include sexual exploitation, forced labour and organised street crime.

Visitors to the museum will be able to walk inside the 11-foot high, brightly wrapped gift boxes. The gift boxes were first used at the London Olympics and this week's initiative follows previous work in 2015 at Liverpool John Lennon Airport by the force’s PVP unit, to raise awareness about the hidden and under-reported issues of modern day slavery, honour-based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

Merseyside’s Deputy Police Commissioner Cllr Sue Murphy said: “Slavery was abolished more than 180 years ago in this country. Yet we know it’s still happening today across the UK and here in Merseyside.

“Slavery’s hidden nature means it is difficult for us to ascertain the extent of the problem in our region, but it is an issue we all need to face.

“This GIFT box brings to life the awful reality of what may lie in store for vulnerable people who are lured by modern day slavers. It tells the true stories of real people who have been subjected to abuse, exploitation and violence.

“By bringing this GIFT box to Merseyside I hope that we can start a conversation, which in turn will raise awareness and understanding. We want to get people talking about this issue and we want them to know how to spot the tell-tale warning signs.

“We need the public’s help if we are to find and rescue vulnerable people who have been enslaved and this interactive art installation is a great tool in bringing this issue out into the open.”

Detective Superintendent Richard Carr from the force’s Major Crime Unit said the giant gift boxes would get people talking about the issue and enable the police to share information with potential victims.

He said: “Of the tens of thousands of people who are thought to be trafficked in and out of the country every year, only a small proportion of these cases are brought to the attention of the police and other agencies.

“We need to change that and one of the ways is by helping the victims themselves understand what is happening to them is wrong and can be prevented if they speak out. It is also important to raise awareness of this global issue amongst the general public and by having these interactive art installations thanks to Stop The Traffik campaign group and the UN, we will be able to educate people about how they can help.

"The force has officers who are specially trained to investigate these crimes with expertise and sensitivity and I would encourage anyone who is a victim or has information to find the courage to come forward and speak to us. Anyone affected by these issues or who has any information can call officers on 0151 777 4079."

David Fleming, Director of National Museums Liverpool said: “People trafficking is a global issue, and it’s important to raise awareness of the fact that it happens in the UK and could be happening in your area.

"We are proud to support the Merseyside Police Major Crime Unit and Stop the Traffik on this by exhibiting this installation at the Museum of Liverpool. We have a strong relationship with Stop the Traffik through the work we do, and continue to do, at the International Slavery Museum.”

Anyone affected by these issues or who has any information can call officers on 0151 777 4079 or report it to the Modern Slavery helpline on 0800 0121 700.

Find out more about Modern Slavery here.

If you are a victim of this type of crime visit www.victimcaremerseyside.org for advice on how to get help and report it.

For more information about the gift boxes and the United Nation's global campaign visit www.ungift.org and www.stopthetraffik.org