Introduction from Unit Commander T/Detective Superintendent Jenny Bristow
The trafficking and exploitation of human beings for financial profit is one of the worst forms of criminality police have to respond to. Put simply it is the cold, callous and calculated abuse of the vulnerable to make money.
It is an affront to the values of our society, yet it crosscuts much of the serious and organised crime we see today. It is at the heart of the trafficking and criminal exploitation of vulnerable children and the violence associated with ‘County Lines’. It drives the business models of international crime gangs, advertising trafficked women online for sexual services, engaging in money laundering, fraud and organised immigration crime. It can enable child sexual exploitation and abuse. Modern slavery and human trafficking is not some distant phenomenon but is present in all our communities and crosses a multitude of priority law enforcement threats.
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 provides powerful tools to tackle organised exploitation. However, coordinating the response to a crime that crosses force and regional boundaries and the need to safeguard very vulnerable victims means these investigations are inevitably complex. The range of methods used to exploit victims and make money requires significant skilled resources to achieve effective investigations. Victims are many and varied. Significant skilled resources are needed to deliver effective investigations into these cases which can take several years to come to court. Prosecutions are similarly complex with case files of evidence running to thousands of pages.
It is challenging but we are making headway. Having led my first modern slavery case in 2014 to now leading the Modern Slavery Police Transformation Unit, I see incredible progress. Policing can now confidently articulate the threat. Training and standards have improved on the basis of comprehensive evidence based guidance. Lessons learned from each MSHT case are being maximised, building a strong understanding about what can work for future investigations and prosecutions. The successes of police partners are regularly hitting the news, evidencing improvements being made. But we must do more. We must bring more offenders to justice to truly safeguard victims of exploitation; past, present and future.
The landscape as always, shifts. With the increased scale of response, new challenges emerge. I am determined to tackle these through the provision of central specialist support. We will continue to lead on national policy development supporting forces in the delivery of consistent policing practice and preventing the duplication of forces struggling 43 times over with the same repeat issues. Providing peer support to investigators on the complexities of the Act, investigative techniques and victim safeguarding remains at the heart of our mission.
I was pleased that the Programme was extended through to March 2020 to allow us to continue delivery of this specialist support. I want to thank all members of the Modern Slavery Police Transformation team across the country for their continued dedication, professionalism and difference they are making, and thank the stakeholders who continue to offer their unwavering support on our joint efforts to transform the policing response.
Now in October 2019 we are already half way through the programme extension. We have clear priorities for the six months ahead and I am delighted to have been invited to lead the team through this period.
T/Detective Superintendent Jenny Bristow
Priority areas of work for the Modern Slavery Police Transformation Unit – 2019/20
- Criminal justice outcomes: Drive up modern slavery case referrals to the CPS through targeted engagement with policing on live investigations and coordination of partnership responses.
- Regional coordination: Provide specialist expertise in the analysis, investigation and prosecution of slavery and trafficking. Work with law enforcement agencies in meeting the operational threat. Promote coordination, collaboration and best practice sharing.
- Connect intelligence: Provide and strengthen regional and analytical capability. Develop the collection and exchange of intelligence across forces and partner agencies and support the coordination of cross-force operational activity.
- System wide improvement: Act as the single voice for policing in the delivery of government and national policy level development connected to MSHT, including National Referral Mechanism reform.
- Training support: Update guidance materials to reflect emerging best practice ensuring availability at operational point of need. Review the police training curriculum to ensure all relevant courses include MSHT content and latest best practice.
- PCC responses: Support PCCs in coordinating the local policing and partner response to MSHT. Raise awareness and focus thinking on partner action to protect particularly vulnerable groups.