Law enforcement agencies are in a primary position to identify victims of modern slavery, pursue perpetrators and ultimately work to eradicate this crime from the streets of the UK. The Commissioner therefore makes it a priority to see that the UK delivers a response to modern slavery that is proactive, targeted and focused.
Combating the crime of modern slavery is of significant importance for the Prime Minister, who introduced a Taskforce in 2016 with heads of police and intelligence agencies, and the National Crime Agency has made tackling modern slavery a national priority. This is a crime that demands resources and tools of law enforcement, and the Commissioner has therefore consistently worked with agencies to ensure the response is up to standard.
The Commissioner has continuously engaged with Police and Crime Commissioners, Chief Police Officers and rank and file officers to improve the police response across the UK. He has also regularly engaged with the National Police Chief’s Council lead, Border Force, Immigration Enforcement and the NCA lead for modern slavery.
The Commissioner has consistently pushed for these agencies to act with professionalism in order to provide a response commensurate to the risk that this crime creates. The Commissioner has urged each agency to embed anti-slavery measures so that they become the norm, which has contributed to an increase in reporting and arrests.
The Commissioner has encouraged independent inspection, and a sustained internal evaluation, of law enforcement performance to increase the standards of police and prosecutors. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) carried out an independent inspection assessing the police response to modern slavery. This inspection was launched following the Commissioner’s initial findings of the deficient law enforcement response and the Commissioner has collaborated with UK law enforcement agencies to take up recommendations within the report.
The Commissioner has worked across borders with international law enforcement agencies in order to target international criminal networks and protect victims across borders. The Commissioner continues to work to improve the strategic cooperation between UK and overseas law enforcement. He has engaged with Europol and Eurojust, and held a meeting with the Secretary General of Interpol. He has also worked in victims’ countries of origin and transit, including Nigeria, Vietnam, Italy, Greece, France, Lithuania and Romania.