St Mary’s University to host Research Centre for Human Trafficking

Following the international conference of the Santa Marta Group over the weekend, St Mary’s University, Twickenham has been selected by the Home Secretary, Theresa May to host a specialist international Centre investigating strategies to challenge slavery and human trafficking.

The Santa Marta Group, led by Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe and St Mary’s University Chancellor, Cardinal Nichols, is an alliance of international police chiefs and Bishops from around the world. The conference, organised by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and the Home Office, was aimed at developing strategies to combat human trafficking.

As part of this, St Mary’s will further academic study into the issue, to support evidence-based policymaking, the targeting of resources, and building public and media awareness of the scale of the problem. The Centre will be a hub, communicating examples of best practice and latest research virtually and also to conferences and guest academics. This holistic research into to the identification and rehabilitation of victims is a pioneering approach which places St Mary’s and the UK at the forefront of the global fight against human trafficking.

St Mary’s Vice-Chancellor Francis Campbell said, “As we approach 2015 it is shameful that slavery continues to be a very real problem both in the UK and beyond. It is not something that happened in the past and has faded into history, but today in the UK there are countless appalling examples of humans being held and forced to labour in unimaginable conditions. That’s why I was honoured to be asked by the Home Secretary to host the centre for applied research. The centre will draw together the theory and practice to help transform lives and create work opportunities for those who need to start afresh. Providing help and support for those in need is core to our values at St Mary’s.”

Over the course of the coming year St Mary’s will work with partners the Bishops’ Conference, the Home Office, the Police and the Church to formulate a strategy for the next three years focusing on prevention, pastoral care and re-integration.