PCCs are the elected voice of local communities in the delivery of policing and community safety. They are responsible for the totality of policing in their area and as part of the role, they must ensure that policing is delivered efficiently and effectively and that victims are supported through the commissioning of appropriate services. Ultimately PCCs hold their Chief Constable to account on behalf of the public.
Working with, and supporting the work of PCCs on issues relating to modern slavery has been a core focus of the Modern Slavery Police Transformation Programme. A part of this, during February and March 2019, members of the programme team worked with police and crime commissioners and local forces to share details of a new toolkit designed to help in the development local responses to modern slavery.
In a series of nationwide workshop events, PCCs and their teams have worked together to identity common themes, share ideas and promote good practice that can be re-used or replicated across the country to tackle modern slavery and support victims. Leading the discussions at all nine workshops was Robin Brierley who, over recent years, has played a leading role in tackling modern slavery through his work with a number of regional anti-slavery partnerships. Prior to that Robin previously worked on immigration crime at the Serious and Organised Crimes Agency, which was the forerunner to the National Crime Agency.
Understanding the extent of modern slavery and related exploitation in any given area is a vital first step. Allied to this is the need to identify the types of exploitation taking place and how the abuse can often related to other forms of organised crime. To support this, data from the National Referral Mechanism and reporting from the Modern Slavery Helpline is readily available, and is also broken down to police force level. Together with information available from regional transformation programme analysts, this data can be used to create insights into the volume and nature of exploitation occurring locally, and into the type of victims being identified.
The next stage involves looking at how police and partner resources are responding to these challenges through their collaborative effort and multi-agency responses. Providing a focus on modern slavery and related exploitation within local police and crime plans is a practical step that PCCs can take to ensure that police and partner agencies are held to account. Ensuring that services are available to support the victims of modern slavery is also critical role.
Where there are gaps, PCCs also have the ability to broker new partnerships or commission services in response, which are often outside of everyday policing business. Underpinning this is a continuing effort on awareness building and prevention work. This is where PCCs are in an ideal position to initiate and/or co-ordinate new ideas, either in collaboration with businesses or public sector partners.
The new toolkit provides PCCs with consistent background information on modern slavery and provides a collection of case studies on how PCCs have tackled these challenges over recent years. This includes information about a wide range of prevention and awareness initiatives from targeted communication campaigns, training support, working with businesses to tackle modern slavery in supply chains and reaching out directly to vulnerable groups. While any PCC-led activity will need to be tailored and directly relevant to the need of the local community, the toolkit is a great resource for PCCs and their teams as they work to create, or renew, their plans to tackle modern slavery locally.