In the autumn of 2016, chief constables and police and crime commissioners in England and Wales chose to invest in a two year programme to improve the response of the police service to modern slavery.
Led by Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, the NPCC National Policing Lead for modern slavery and the chief constable of Devon & Cornwall Police, the programme has created up to 80 specialist roles to co-ordinate and support improvements across UK law enforcement.
The Modern Slavery Police Transformation Unit (MSPTU) is based in Devon & Cornwall Police, but has staff working across every policing region including teams embedded within the NCA and in Europol. Members of the team are employed within 18 separate law enforcement organisations and work across 20 locations. They have been working to develop intelligence, identify best practice and share information to ensure all police forces and law enforcement partners are equipped to consistently respond to modern slavery.
Police and partner agencies now benefit from having a clearer national picture of the threat that modern slavery poses and there are new networks in place to develop and share intelligence. Best practice information on how to investigate modern slavery cases is also shared between forces, and practitioners also have access to guidance and advice. Targeted training courses designed for police officers and staff working in a range of specialist roles is now also available.
The Modern Slavery Police Transformation programme was initially announced in November 2016 and then formally launched in April 2017. The programme was originally scheduled to continue until March 2019 and was subsequently extended to March 2020.
The initial two year programme was supported by £8.5m in funding from the Home Office Police Transformation Fund to achieve eleven specific deliverables. Its’ focus has, and continues to be, to support the police service and law enforcement partners in tackling the increasing number of modern slavery investigations; and to work with others to create conditions through which modern slavery investigations can be more efficient and effective.
Key areas of work within the programme are to:
- Facilitate closer multi-agency working and collaboration across law enforcement and partner agencies, to improve the effectiveness of the overall response to modern slavery.
- Provide on going policing input to multi-agency work designed to improve the overall governmental response to modern slavery; through the reform of the NRM and other key initiatives.
- Work with forces and with police and crime commissioners across England & Wales to ensure the response of all police forces is consistent and effective.
- Work within policing to identify, promote and share best practice that can help to improve police forces’ strategic and tactical responses to modern slavery investigations.
- Establish and maintain the national modern slavery policing operations database to provide an overview of modern slavery related policing activity across the UK.
- Provide analytical reports for law enforcement and partners to characterise the overall threat and gain deeper insights into the background and behaviour of victims and offenders.
- Work with Regional and Organised Crime Units to provide a regional and local analysis of the modern slavery threat locally, to develop regionally based partnerships to combat modern slavery and to co-ordinate activity and learning with local forces.