By February 2020, the numbers of modern slavery related investigations being conducted across UK policing had reached at least 1810 cases. This is a 20% increase on the number of operations recorded 12 months prior, and an almost ten fold increase as compared to when the programme originally began.
However, rather than being an indication that the problem is getting worse, it can also be seen in the context of law enforcement and society as a whole being more aware of and more able to respond to what the real level of threat looks like.
The reality is that exploitation, human trafficking and offences under the Modern Slavery Act do not solely represent a challenge for policing. The police can and will work to deliver better safeguarding, better investigation and better prevention activity. However, achieving a sustainable solution to modern slavery lies with wider partnerships, greater public awareness and collective measures we can all apply to prevent exploitation from having a place in our communities.