Responding to today’s Public Accounts Committee Report, Reducing Modern Slavery, Mark Burns-Williamson, Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, and national lead for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) on modern slavery, said:
“As chair of the National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network (NATMSN) for PCC’s in England and Wales, I am greatly encouraged by the significant progress made in the police response to modern slavery over the last twelve months and the work of the Modern Slavery Police Transformation Programme to influence and support this achievement.
“It is crucial that we always remember the needs of victims and ensure they are supported before they enter the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) process, during and after, so the appropriate safeguards are in place to ensure they can look to rebuild their lives with the confidence of knowing they are supported.
“The role of the police and law enforcement is fundamental in the fight against modern slavery and the importance of a more consistent and coordinated approach across the police service in England and Wales and the UK cannot be underestimated.”
Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, with responsibility for oversight of the police transformation work related to modern slavery, said:
“The decision to bid for police transformation funding was both bold and courageous and the £8.5m awarded has created one of the largest programmes to take place under the Police Transformation Programme.
“The National Modern Slavery Policing Transformation Unit (MSPTU) unit, based in Exmouth, is at the heart of this, drawing on the knowledge and expertise of 70 modern slavery practitioners from across the country. They are employed across 18 different law enforcement agencies and work from over 20 locations.
“Their work has led to video masterclasses available across the entire police network, a four-day investigators’ course which has already trained 300 people and awareness-raising days that have been attended by 1,200 officers all over the country. Specialist interviewers have been trained in better ways to support victims of slavery.
“Through the programme, we now understand more about modern slavery and can use that knowledge to improve the way police forces and other agencies try to combat it.
“Modern slavery impacts our everyday lives in a number of ways and the programme adds to the broader Police and Crime Commissioners’ initiatives which seek to ensure that communities are protected from the infiltration of serious and organised crime.
“Modern slavery is far more prevalent in our society than we might realise and rising number of British victims and offenders are being identified. UK nationals are in the top three most trafficked nationalities.”