Conference of students and professionals to hear from abuse gang lawyer

Trinity Park conference centre. Picture: CLIFFORD HICKS

Trinity Park conference centre. Picture: CLIFFORD HICKS - Credit: Archant

A prosecutor who helped bring the Rochdale sex trafficking gang to justice will address police, education, health and legal experts on how to better protect vulnerable people from harm in Suffolk.

Nazir Afzal OBE, who reopened the case against a group of men who groomed up to 47 young girls in 2012, is set to deliver a keynote speech at a University of Suffolk conference next Wednesday.

The campaigner on issues around child sexual exploitation and violence against women will talk to students and professionals about improving services by listening to ordinary people.

The annual conference, Can you hear me? The Voice of the Service User, is being held at Trinity Park and will view scenarios from the perspective of service users.

Mr Afzal said: “Safeguarding is everybody’s responsibility, not just the professionals, but we can learn from each other, and this conference will drive up performance and awareness, and protect even more.”

The conference will involve 350 students from the school of health sciences and the school of law and social sciences.

Suzanna Pickering, senior lecturer in social work, said: “This conference takes place at an important time, when some people are struggling more than ever.

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“We are bringing together police, nurses, social workers, health workers and lawyers to make the service better by listening to the voices of ordinary people.

“[Nazir Afzal] will tell us how to listen, understand people’s everyday problems and pull together to provide them with the best possible service.”

Former Coldstream Guard, Luke Woodley will also address the conference, sharing his experiences of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and how he navigated various health services to get support he needed.

Mr Woodley worked with Dr Roger Kingerlee, a clinical psychologist at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, to develop the 16-week Veterans Stabilisation Programme.

Dr Ruth Strudwick, associate professor in diagnostic radiography, said: “PTSD is something that can have an effect on people from all walks of life.

“It will be important to hear Luke’s story and how it has had a positive effect on his life and others.”

Tickets for the conference are available at