A business perspective – Exploited into Essex Conference
“The police cannot solve this problem on their own. It is the acute responsibility of Essex businesses to get involved.”
That was the message from Denise Rossiter, chief executive of Essex Chamber of Commerce, speaking at the Exploited into Essex conference.
Hosted by the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex (PFCC) and Essex Police, the conference shone a light on modern-day slavery, human trafficking and organised immigration crime.
Held at the London Cruise Terminal at Tilbury, the event highlighted the work already being done, the challenge the county faces and what can be done together to build resilience against these forms of crime and stop exploitation in Essex.
Denise took to the stage to urge all businesses to take action.
She said: “Complacency is endemic today. I speak to businesses day in and day out, but rarely do they speak to me about what we are here for; modern day slavery.
“The businesses here obviously realise we have a problem. The PFCC and Essex Police cannot solve this problem on their own. It is the acute responsibility of Essex businesses to get involved.
“Even if they do not particularly think it is their problem and it is someone else’s problem, there is a cost to businesses per year and it affects the supply chain. If they are thinking of the bottom line, they should be looking at how they can quell the problem as it is never going away.
“Business should take the time to reflect that it is not only every-day problems in their business which stop them from making money, but this problem will also affect their bottom line because of the supply chain.
“Whether they like it or not, this affects every one of us. By businesses not taking any notice, the cost to the economy and the damage to society is inevitable.
At the conference, Denise touched on the men and women from Vietnam who were found dead in a container lorry in Grays in 2019 and urged people within the county to make sure Essex is held up as a positive example going forward.
She urged delegates to “observe, look, listen and see” what is going on around them and to take action in any way they can to stop the “heinous crime”.
She said: “Essex is the first in everything. But, did we want to be recognised as the first in the country to have 39 people die trying to get into our county? It happened in Essex. Are we going to take responsibility?
“Let’s get real and help the PFCC and the police to tackle this problem.”