A key area of work for the Modern Slavery Police Transformation Programme was to debrief, learn and share as much information as possible about completed modern slavery policing operations with colleagues across police forces and wider law enforcement. Understanding how real world situations and challenges were tackled and the outcomes for victims and offenders is key to establishing best practice and in identifying lessons learned. Sharing this information through practical guidance is particularly important for police forces. With the Modern Slavery Act being relatively new, with the nature of offending continuing to evolve and with investigations increasing in volume and complexity, it is important that real world knowledge and experience can be shared quickly.
More than 40 major police investigations into modern slavery related cases have been debriefed by the What Works Team. Once approved with participating forces, these operational debriefs are shared across policing and law enforcement agencies via the Policing Slavery and Human Trafficking Group on Knowledge Hub.
Key areas of good practice emerging from the operational debriefs completed so far include:
- Acknowledging the differences in the way modern slavery victims present to law enforcement and how victims need to be supported and managed to maximise potential evidential opportunities. It's also important to understand how and why people become victims of MSHT and why they are so different to victims of most other crime types.
- The importance of ensuring that MS cases are led and organised by trained officers – including those specifically trained in interviewing techniques and ABE approaches to modern slavery.
- The importance of planning successful approaches to evidence-led prosecution - and the different forms of evidence that will need to be collected in support - including the use of covert activity as a key tool. The availability of specialist support (involving financial investigators, data analysts, exhibits, disclosure officers, victim care specialists etc.) is consistently required.
- Ensuring that all staff and call handlers can recognise the indicators of MSHT within day to day incident reports. This ensures that safeguarding processes and investigations are instigated as quickly as possible.
- The use of body worn video is proving to be of increasing value. BWV provides crucial evidence relating to the demeanour of victims, conditions in which they are found living or working and in capturing first accounts or conversations.
- Early engagement with the CPS colleagues, and in particular the CPS Complex Crime Unit, in modern slavery cases made a material difference to the efficiency and potential success of investigations.
- Victim care and engagement continues to be an area critical to the success. The use of specialists (from within policing and from partner agencies) or dedicated officers to lead on victim engagement is recommended.
- International enquiries are proving vitally important for any investigation that has an overseas footprint. A number of recent cases reviewed gained intelligence and overseas safeguarding support that was crucial to the progress of the UK investigation. See Documents link on right
- Partnership or a multi-agency approaches to modern slavery investigations via a variety of law enforcement and external agencies consistently produces better results that no single agency could achieve.