Introduction from Superintendent Andrew Munday
The number of modern slavery policing operations has continued to increase with at least 1138 live MSHT investigations underway by November 2018. This is a more than six-fold increase as compared to the start of the programme and a 140% increase over the prior 12 months.
Within policing we are now increasingly aware of the means by which vulnerable people, from the UK and abroad, can fall prey to exploitative situations in our country. These individuals can become victims to sexual, labour or criminal exploitation having been targeted and recruited by virtue of their personal vulnerabilities. They can find themselves trapped into exploitation that will see their safety, their rights and their needs as human beings frequently disregarded. We cannot allow this. With partners, we welcome the role of frontline professionals in the public and private sector, and of members of the public, in raising concerns about potential exploitation where they see it.
Supporting the response, thousands of police officers and staff from all forces in England and Wales have received specialist training on how to identify modern slavery victims and respond to the range of related crime types. Through wide ranging training, the sharing of good practice and the continuing advocacy work, there is now a greater appreciation of how to respond to this diverse and complex crime. This covers how to approach and support victims, how to gather and respond to intelligence, how to work with partners to achieve good preventative and investigative outcomes and how to deliver effective MSHT investigations.
As a result police forces, together with a range of partners, are increasingly able to deliver a positive response to modern slavery. There is still work to do but the direction of travel is encouraging. Now we are in the last quarter of the Modern Slavery Police Transformation programme, alongside our partners, we are proud of the contribution we are making. We have helped to equip police leaders, police forces, and police officers and staff with an understanding of the challenges posed by modern slavery and of the strategic and operational responses required.
We are using this real world experience to contribute to the review of the Modern Slavery Act. In addition we are also in the process of clarifying the policing processes needed deliver NRM reform, and further improvements to the consistency of crime data recording relating to modern slavery.
Crucial in all this is the difference that we, as individual members of the policing community, can make to delivering the best possible outcomes for victims. On this, we welcome the guidance from the National Police Chiefs Council that reinforces our policing priorities as being foremost to protect potential victims of exploitation and to investigate crime. It is not our role to treat victims as potential illegal immigrants as we must be extremely careful about doing anything that deters victims from coming to us for help.
On this we also welcome the publication of the Human Trafficking Foundation’s Slavery and Trafficking Survivor Care Standards and the Governments’ commitment to adopt them. Once implemented, these updated standards will help maximize the numbers of victims who feel confident enough to actively participate in the prosecution of offenders.
Over the coming months our priority is to consolidate what has been done so far to deliver a tangible and lasting legacy form this programme. This will include the publication of new guidance materials in addition to holding several major events to further engage and support police forces. Our goal will be to maintain the momentum that we, and our partners, have created towards the continuing effort to police and defeat modern slavery.
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