Many agencies are in a position to identify, refer, and provide care to victims of modern slavery. Those working in local authorities and the health sector can play a particularly important role, and the Commissioner has therefore been working in partnership with these bodies to develop effective awareness raising tools.
From local government staff to frontline health practitioners, many professionals have an opportunity, and responsibility, to respond to modern slavery.
Many will come into contact with victims both during their captivity and after their escape. The Commissioner therefore believes that all frontline professionals must be appropriately trained to ensure that vital opportunities to identify, assist and support victims are not missed.
In partnership with South East Councils and NHS England, in 2016, the Commissioner launched three awareness raising videos for local councils, emergency services and NHS staff. The videos highlight the signs and symptoms of modern slavery, and outline actions staff should undertake if they suspect they have encountered a victim.
The Commissioner has continued to ensure wide dissemination and use of these tools, and has supported further development of training for frontline staff commissioned by NHS England, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and the London Metropolitan Police.
NHS England has taken the lead in ensuring its frontline staff are properly informed about the signs of modern slavery by embedding the Commissioner’s video for health professionals in its training materials. In addition, following a presentation by the Commissioner, the Royal College of Nursing has produced a pocket guide for nurses.
The Commissioner has also been working with the Local Government Association (LGA) to produce a guide for local councils on their role in combating modern slavery. The LGA represents over 370 councils and all Fire and Rescue authorities in England and Wales; those working in such departments play an important part in the fight against modern slavery, with crucial roles and responsibilities. The guide will be published in late 2017. It will equip staff to recognise modern slavery in their local area and make appropriate referrals.