11 December 2014, The Tablet

Anti-trafficking centre set up at Catholic university in London

St Mary's University has been selected by Home Secretary Theresa May to house a specialist research centre to investigate strategies to combat slavery and human trafficking.

The announcement came at the end of the Santa Marta Group conference in London last weekend, which was attended by police chiefs, ambassadors and victims’ groups from around the world. The meeting led by Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe to discuss ways of fighting the crime, which is the second most profitable unlawful activity after the illegal arms trade.

Sociologist Dr Carole Murphy, who will head the new centre, said there was very little in terms of research comparing ways of dealing with trafficking, and she hoped the St Mary’s centre could change that.

“Some things are done very well by different police forces, and they need to be looked at and evaluated so good practice is shared,” said Dr Murphy.

Francis Campbell, vice chancellor of St Mary’s, based in Twickenham, south-west London, said he was honoured to have been asked by Mrs May to set up the resource, adding: “The centre will draw together the theory and practice to help transform lives and create work opportunities for those who need to start afresh.”

The new centre will consist of several research staff members and PhD students. St Mary’s will work closely with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, the Home Office and the police to provide the research to back up new directions in the fight to end human trafficking.

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