Romania is consistently identified as a major country of origin of potential victims of modern slavery identified in the UK. The Commissioner has worked to strengthen the already positive bi-lateral anti-slavery partnership with Romania.
Romania has continuously featured as one of the top countries of origin for victims of modern slavery in the UK since the implementation of the National Referral Mechanism in 2009. In one of his first international visits in 2015, the Commissioner travelled to Bucharest to meet with the Romanian government to discuss this issue.
During meetings with the National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons, the National Police and also the Prosecution Office (Directorate for Organised Crime and Terrorism), it was identified that although there have been a number of successful joint investigations, there are significant discrepancies with regards to the data held in Romania and the UK on the numbers of victims, suspects and prosecutions involving Romanian victims of human trafficking.
Positive cooperation has been established between Romania and the UK to tackle modern slavery, but the lack of strategic coordination has been preventing a fully effective response. The Commissioner is therefore working with senior Romanian officials on development and implementation of collaborative solutions.
The Commissioner secured the secondment of a senior Romanian official to his office to work as a Special Adviser on Strategic Cooperation with Romania on Human Trafficking. Robert Marin joined the Commissioner’s team in January 2016. This role was introduced with the aim of enhancing cross-border collaboration to tackle modern slavery involving Romanian victims and offenders. Under the leadership of the Commissioner, Robert has advised UK law enforcement on how best to work with Romanian authorities on modern slavery cases. He has successfully increased partnership working between the UK and Romania. In doing so, the intelligence picture around modern slavery crime in the UK and Romanian context has improved.
To boost the operational response to this intelligence, an online tool has been developed. This tool will assist law enforcement in combating modern slavery crime. In addition a “problem profile” has been established on Romanian modern slavery in the UK, including recommendations for improved intelligence sharing and effective coordination. In March 2017, the Commissioner spoke at a modern slavery conference hosted by the British Embassy in Bucharest; the event brought together key partners in the field. Both the problem profile and the portal were presented at this event in the presence of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.
The Commissioner worked with the Romanian Home Affairs Attaché on extending this model and consequently facilitated the secondment of Romanian officers to Police Scotland and Greater Manchester Police. During a visit to Bucharest in March 2017, the Commissioner also met with the Director of Operations for the Southeast European Law Enforcement Centre (SELEC) to discuss the importance of improved regional cooperation and intelligence sharing.
The Commissioner also worked to secure the secondment of a Romanian Labour Inspector to the UK Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA). With thanks to good cooperation with the GLAA and the Labour Attaché at the Romanian Embassy in London, a Romanian Labour Inspector is now embedded within the GLAA. His role includes conducting enquiries on Romanian recruitment agencies with the Romanian Labour Inspectorate and Ministry; contacting and locating Romanian victims; and researching Romanian companies online. The labour inspector has contributed to a number of GLAA enforcement activities throughout the UK providing real time assistance when dealing with Romanian nationals and businesses.