Suspected modern slavery offences will be treated as a serious crime. This could be the case even when potential victims may not immediately identify themselves as such. An early step will to advise and reassure potential victims about the specialist support that is available to them.
Where frontline police officers or police staff respond to potential cases of exploitation, human trafficking or modern slavery, they will immediately inform investigators that offences under the Modern Slavery Act may have been committed.
All police forces now have investigators who have received specialist training on how to respond to, and plan, modern slavery investigations. Areas of initial investigation will involve looking at:
- Understanding the initial situation and where any potential victims may be working and living;
- Taking an accurate record of initial accounts;
- Checking on the health and welfare of potential victims, and understanding their day to day activities;
- Establishing who has control of passports and identity documents;
- Checking with other sources of information and intelligence relating to the scene, the participants or the situation;
Having secured the scene of a potential modern slavery offence, evidence will be gathered as far as possible. This may include the use of body worn cameras in locations where exploitation may have taken place or where victims may have been living.
Police will want to speak to victims alone, to avoid any undue influence being placed upon them from other potential victims or exploiters. Independent interpreters will be provided as required. People known to potential victims, even family members, will not be used as interpreters.
Facilities will be organised to conduct further meetings and interviews again including provision of independent interpreters as required.
An early priority will be to determine whether there are more victims that need to be safeguarded.