Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns-Williamson, who is the national portfolio lead for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) on modern slavery and PCC for West Yorkshire, commenting on the first ever HMICFRS report into modern slavery, said: “Human trafficking and modern day slavery is a significant threat regionally, nationally and internationally.
“Not only can it have a traumatic impact on its victims, but those involved in human trafficking often have links to other serious organised crime.
“This report highlights just how important it is to ensure joined up practice and leadership around tackling this abhorrent and vile crime that destroys lives and robs people of their basic right to freedom.
“It has identified how some forces are more proactive in tackling modern slavery but that more needs to be done nationally, which is something I would agree with.
“In my own area of West Yorkshire in 2014 I made £3.5 million available to the police to increase their capacity to respond to CSE, Cyber and Human Trafficking with the creation of a dedicated police team solely investigating human trafficking.
“The report highlights how forces, including Greater Manchester Police, (GMP), are showing dedication and commitment in dealing with this type of crime which produces effective results. However it is a concern that failings in investigating these crimes in some forces reflects deficiencies in basic policing practice and the need for consistent joined up working is more imperative than ever.
“As the HMICFRS report identifies, more forces and PCCs need to develop a consistent response to modern slavery and that is one of the aims of the National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network (NATMSN) I helped set up in 2016 for fellow PCCs.
“The NATMSN is a vital platform for PCCs to share best practice, encourage a victim focused approach, and hold their forces to account more effectively in their response to modern slavery crime.
“The network has the support of the APCC, NPCC, Modern Slavery Unit and Kevin Hyland, the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner (IASC).
“Mr Hyland, the NPCC and the Home Office Modern Slavery Unit have input into the NATMSN which also develops and identifies best practice, trends and patterns for the prevention of human trafficking and modern slavery.
“As the NPCC lead, Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, has said, there is a growing awareness within the public about the reality of slavery and to eradicate it, we must all take responsibility. Whether that is reporting suspicions you may have about someone who may be at risk, or becoming more aware about services you are using and cheap labour.
“The NATMSN has had investment from the £8.5m from the Modern Slavery Police Transformation Programme (MSPTP) to ensure a co-ordinated and embedded approach to tackling human trafficking can develop across England and Wales.
“We welcome the recognition that HMICFRS has afforded the transformative approaches being taken to tackle modern slavery, through coordinated multiagency working and investments in specialist operational and analytical capabilities.
“The MSPTP has proven how transformative investments are tackling serious crimes and protecting the vulnerable in our communities. Our Policing Vision 2025 identifies these innovative ways of working, as vital to transforming policing’s response to organised criminal networks who perpetrate this crime.
“While the HMICFRS has highlighted the successes stemming from a nationally coordinated response to modern slavery, we must not be complacent about the complexity of detecting, preventing and prosecuting this horrendous crime.
“I have written to all PCCs urging them to engage with the MSPTP and to include modern slavery in their Police and Crime Plans and I am working with the NPCC to develop events around future learning for Chief Constables and PCC’s, whether that is around business supply chains or so called ‘county lines’ exploitation as two examples.
“This HMICFRS inspection also comes just days after Mr Hyland released his own report showing a 159% increase in modern slavery crime recording demonstrating just how much awareness there now is around this type of crime.
“Mr Hyland also noted that the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) reforms announced by the Home Secretary last week do not go far enough which I would agree with in ensuring that appropriate support is in place to support victims and prevent them from being re-trafficked.
“Mr Hyland has also spoken about the opportunities for police forces to utilise other expertise and resources by working in partnership with other agencies to overcome challenges of disrupting and investigating modern slavery.
“That is something I fully support and the work of the NATMSN actively promotes and highlights the work of the Gangmasters Labour and Abuse Authority (GLAA), Modern Slavery helpline and many active Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), who play a crucial role.
“This has never been a more complex issue and of such a scale, however if we are to truly understand the nature of this threat and respond effectively, law enforcement, statutory and non-statutory front line agencies and third sector organisations across the UK must contribute to building a clear intelligence picture to respond effectively and consistently.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
The National Referral Mechanism – framework for identifying victims of human trafficking or modern slavery and ensuring they receive the appropriate support.