Promoting partnership approaches

When modern slavery and related crime comes to light, the role of the police in providing for the immediate protection of victims and in pursuing perpetrators is clear. However, a broader coordinated approach involving a range of partners is needed to offer continuing support to often vulnerable victims and to prevent exploitation from having a place in our communities. The ultimate goals of minimising and ideally eliminating the conditions in which modern slavery and human trafficking can grow needs a collective effort at a national, regional and local level.

Policing slavery partnership conference

In July 2018 more than 250 delegates attended the first national Policing Slavery Partnership Conference, held in Birmingham. The event showcased successes and shared challenges of how public sector agencies can work together, and with the police, to safeguard victims and target the perpetrators of modern slavery.

The event was introduced by Mark Burns-Wlliamson OBE who is the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners' lead for human trafficking and modern slavery, and the PCC for West Yorkshire.

The approaches and activities that multi-agency partnerships are involved in include:

  • The provision of on-going victim support and case management
  • Intelligence gathering. Threat and risk assessment
  • Awareness-raising amongst communities and local employers
  • Co-ordination with business and private sector organisations
  • Targeted prevention activity
  • Training and professional development for practitioners
  • Access to funding
  • Stakeholder management
  • Supporting police and law enforcement investigations
  • Establishing partnership goals and measuring outcomes
  • Collaboration, information sharing, co-location of partnership teams

Although several police forces, PCCs and regional organised crime units have already played a central role in bringing these partnerships together, it is not always the case that the police are best placed to lead them as they continue to mature.

Several partnership models were shared at the conference including the Challenger programme in Greater Manchester, the Welsh Anti-Slavery Partnership and the West Midlands Anti-Slavery Partnership. While a number of partnership are already well developed, colleagues from Hertfordshire Police talked about their experience in 2017 in taking a leadership role in establishing a new shared multi-agency approach when a more effective response to modern slavery was needed.

At the centre of the approach was to recognise that modern slavery, exploitation and human trafficking were “not just a police problem” given that the PCC, local authority, charities and other agencies were all aware of and experiencing related challenges. A conference was held to launch the initiative and for stakeholders to agree what work needed to done and how to organise its' delivery. A strategic oversight group was established with sub-teams including tactical ops, victim support and partnerships and training also being set up. In addition to leading tactical operation, the policing team also made a significant contribution to the development and delivery of training to more than 2,500 people – including council staff.

Key strategic aims of the activity was to inform the public that modern slavery exists, promote the approach being taken in Hertfordshire, to promote awareness of victim rights and to communicate directly with homeless and other vulnerable groups at risk of recruitment by those who might set out to exploit them.

The invaluable role that other partnerships undertake is widely recognised, particularly in leading on victim support while allowing the police to focus on the investigation and disruption of modern slavery, human trafficking and exploitation crime.

Anti Slavery Partnership Toolkit - Establishing and developing partnerships

Also at the event, Vicky Brotherton of the Independent Anti-slavery Commissioners Office introduced the newly developed “Modern Slavery Partnership Toolkit”. This toolkit offers a comprehensive set of resources to support partnership work connected to supporting victims and tacking modern slavery. 

The development of the toolkit followed research from the Nottingham University Rights Lab and the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner into the different types of anti-slavery partnership that exist and how they can be further developed and supported.  Dr Alison Gardner from Nottingham University led this work and also presented at partnership conference.

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About Us


This is the website of the modern slavery police transformation programme.  We work to support police officers, police staff and law enforcement partners to lead the fight against modern slavery and human trafficking. 

Our aim is to help to deliver a consistent response to protecting victims and targeting offenders - and to work with partners to ultimately help prevent exploitation from having a place in our society.

Contact Us


You can contact the Modern Slavery Police Transformation programme by email at Modern Slavery

Alternatively colleagues in UK law enforcement can visit the modern slavery community on POLKA.

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