Cardinal Nichols and Pope Francis have joined police chiefs and politicians, including Home Secretary Amber Rudd, at a conference on modern slavery in Rome.

The conference was hosted by the Santa Marta Group, an international coalition of senior law enforcement chiefs and members of the Church, including bishops’ conferences and religious orders.

The group was founded in 2014 as part of an initiative begun by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

The group, which now has members in more than 30 countries, met at the Vatican last week to detail progress being made and share best practices. Nearly 21 million people, including minors, are believed to be victims of human trafficking, according to the International Labour Organisation.

Cardinal Nichols of Westminster told reporters that while human trafficking is still not a top priority in many parts of the world, much has been done to finally expose it.

“Voices that were once completely hidden are now being heard and misery that was once unacknowledged is now being acknowledged,” he said at a Vatican news conference.

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