First ever National Network to support victims of human trafficking (19 Jan 2016)

IMG_2424The first ever National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network has been launched by West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns-Williamson, and the Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland.

The network, being launched at the Home Office today (Tuesday 19 January) involves Police and Crime Commissioners signing up to an agreement to take a more strategic approach to tackle the issue by sharing best practice, assisting in the identification and conviction of perpetrators, and ensuring their Chief Constables are regularly held to account on the work they are doing in tackling the crime.

The network launch, attended by the Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation Karen Bradley MP and PCCs from across England and Wales, comes 12 months after West Yorkshire Police, with money from the PCC, created a dedicated Human Trafficking Unit, which supports divisional policing on the issue, and after a West Yorkshire Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network, that has helped train and raise awareness to over 3,000 front line staff, including police and other groups, in spotting the signs of human trafficking, was created.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: "When you look at force referral figures for human trafficking some are low or have none at all, which could be interpreted in many ways, but we would be naïve to consider that it means a whole county or region has no victims of trafficking so I believe this network is essential in working together to ensure this practice is eradicated as it has no place in today's society."

IMG_2439"It is widely accepted that human trafficking and modern day slavery still remains a hidden crime with many victims transported through different force areas, making it extremely difficult to investigate and measure. Given the ease and frequency of transportation that victims go through I identified the need to create more national joined up working to raise awareness and share good practice throughout the UK."

Mr Hyland said: "The establishment of the modern slavery network for Police and Crime Commissioner's is undoubtedly a very important step forward in creating a more co-ordinated response to modern slavery across the UK.

"The improved communication streams and strategic direction that this network will help facilitate will enhance the UK's efforts to combat modern slavery enormously. I look forward to continuing to work closely with PCC's as I carry out my strategic plan and in my efforts to make the UK a dangerous and difficult place for traffickers to operate."

Nationally in 2014, 2340 potential trafficking victims were referred into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), the process run by the Salvation Army to support victims of trafficking and modern slavery, which is a 34 per cent increase on 2013.

Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation Karen Bradley said: "Modern slavery is a scourge on our society, which sees organised criminals prey on vulnerable victims and trade in human misery.
 
"The Government's landmark Modern Slavery Act means those who commit these crimes can now face life in jail. It has also given the police greater powers to deal with these criminal gangs and much needed protection for victims.

"The new National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network demonstrates that by working together, we can shine a light on this issue and help stop ruthless criminals profiting from their trade."

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, national policing lead for Modern Slavery said: "I have liaised closely with Mr Burns-Williamson, in relation to development of a national PCC network.

"I am highly supportive of this ambitious approach and am hopeful that it will assist greatly the UK response in tackling this abhorrent crime, ensuring that police forces are more increasingly effective at identifying and protecting victims and bringing perpetrators to justice."

IMG_2397

*Photo credit Lee Brown

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2018