United Kingdom police 'failing to tackle modern slavery'

Elias Hubbard
October 24, 2017

The report also states that as police do not always recognise victims slavery of trafficking, they remained in the hands of those exploiting them or were arrested as offenders or illegal immigrants.

The report mentions several modern slavery related cases which expose serious deficiencies in police practice.

Some 38 police forces recorded a 200% rise in the number of crimes reported under the Modern Slavery Act, while an August report by the National Crime Agency revealed modern slavery and human trafficking affects "every large town and city" in the UK.

It also criticises "variable commitment" among police leaders to tackling trafficking and slavery, though it praises the approach in West Yorkshire.

In one investigation, described by the report as "poor at every stage", officers failed to record allegations of rape against a eastern European woman forced into prostitution in her home country, then trafficked to the United Kingdom and found eventually by a member of the public heavily pregnant and in distress near a motorway service station.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams, who led the probe, said police have a "crucial role" to play in protecting thousands of men, women and children who are being "degraded and dehumanised" every day.

HMICFRS, which published a report yesterday on modern slavery, said some victims were unprotected, leaving perpetrators to exploit others.

Offences that fall under the umbrella of modern slavery include forced labour, sexual exploitation and domestic servitude, with nail bars, brothels and auto washes often targeted by police.

The force polices Holyhead port at Anglesey - the second busiest roll-on, roll-off ferry port after Dover - with officers and other specialists including a dedicated support officer for victims of slavery who has just been appointed.

Immigration services contacted police about another victim, who was being flown into the country on a private jet for domestic servitude.

Some officers did not think modern slavery was an issue in their area, the report added, though it did acknowledge some forces had begun to improve their service.

Some senior officers openly expressed a reluctance to "turn over the stone" and proactively look for offences in the categories, citing concerns about the "potential level of demand", the report said.

"Stena Line recognises its responsibility to address and mitigate the risk of modern slavery and human trafficking in our operations", said a spokesman. "I hope to see real and consistent improvement".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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