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United Nations presents award to DMU researcher for work tackling human trafficking


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A research project established to tackle modern slavery and end exploitation has earned a De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) academic an award from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and International Association of Universities (IAU).

Dr Laura Pajon, programme leader for LLB Law and Criminal Justice at DMU, was named ‘Young Researcher of the Year’ in recognition of her work to eliminate human trafficking.

Laura Pajon resized

Over the last three years, Dr Pajon has been the lead on a research project to establish and develop a multiagency partnership to combat the problem. For this, she co-created the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Modern Day Slavery Action Group (LLRMSAG).

The action group, supported by partners including the police, local councils, non-governmental organisations and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, acts as an intelligence hub to secure integrated local responses to modern slavery, as well as helping professionals and members of the public to recognise signs that could indicate someone is at risk.

“I am honoured to receive the Young Researcher award from the UNODC and IAU,” said Dr Pajon.

“Before this project began, there was no anti-slavery partnership in place but over the last three years, through our work with our collaborative partners, we have managed to identify risk areas of exploitation with a view to safeguarding victims of trafficking.”

The award was presented to Dr Pajon during an online event and paid tribute to her latest paper, Ending Human Trafficking and all Forms of Exploitation through Multiagency Collaborations, which explores the design and implementation of an anti-slavery partnership and discusses the value of research-practice collaborations to respond to complex social problems such as human trafficking.

The paper reads: “Human Trafficking is a social and multidimensional problem, which has multiple and complex drivers, including socio-economic, political and individual factors. While eradicating the problem is highly challenging, multi-agency partnerships can develop comprehensive and complex responses beyond rescuing victims and prosecuting offenders.”

Professor Dave Walsh, Dr Pajon’s former PhD supervisor and now research colleague, said the award is the “most fitting recognition of her blossoming talent”.

He added: “I have been able to see first-hand that the credit so accorded now to Dr Pajon has been fully deserved. She is fast becoming a highly respected academic nationally with her academic peers.

“Outside the academic world I have seen her steer professionals towards joint activity in her role as co-ordinator of the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Modern Day Slavery Action Group, which has had so much success that its endeavours have been recognised at the United Nations.

“The action group has also made a difference locally to so many lives through much increased policing activity that has led to discovery of so many more victims and led to the arrest of suspects. Her work has directly influenced the way that the police organise human trafficking and multi-agency investigations.

“This highly prized award then by the UNODC and IAU represents yet another recognition in Dr Pajon’s career that promises such a great future. It is wonderful that her outstanding talents now have such a global platform.”

Posted on Friday 17th December 2021

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