To hear from Kevin Hyland OBE, the UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, leading on national efforts to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking.
Presentation received from Kevin Hyland OBE (UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner) on national efforts to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking.
Kevin Hyland highlighted that his role was to encourage good practise in the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of slavery and human trafficking offences and is to also identify victims of those offences.
Statistics regarding the scale of human trafficking and modern slavery was presented, it was learnt that 40,300,000 people live in slavery today. 13,000 potential victims of slavery are in the UK and 151,600,000 children are victims of child labour worldwide.
It was noted that the Commissioner wanted to improve the identification of victims of modern slavery as it is currently a hidden and underreported crime. It was also highlighted to improve immediate and sustained support for victims and survivors across the UK.
An update was provided regarding the reform of the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). The NRM is the UK’s framework for potential victims of modern slavery to be identified and referred for appropriate support. It was recognised the system needed improvements in many areas such as resource and funds to assist victims leave slavery. The Commissioner is therefore pushing for a complete reform which was approved in October 2017.
As per the approval, the Commissioner wants to see intelligence brought into the picture through victim-centred processes with more coordination, accountability, oversight and monitoring. This will have a positive impact on the number of criminals prosecuted and convicted, as well as an increased number of victims identified, supported and ultimately move on from the horrors of slavery.
It was revealed that Modern Slavery has strong links to organised crime, the Commissioner expressed his intent to promote an improved law enforcement response across the UK.
The Commissioner also wanted to identify, promote and facilitate best practice in partnership working, and to encourage improved data sharing and high-quality research into key issues, ensuring partnerships are in place across the country that enable effective communication streams between relevant bodies. The Commissioner also wanted to also work with homeless charities to see the trends regarding trafficking.
Strategic plans for international collaboration includes working with the Home Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for International Development, National Crime Agency, Crown Prosecution Service and other statutory agencies, including international partners, to encourage best practice in upstream prevention activity focussing on specific areas that victims are trafficked from.
The Commissioner discussed County Lines, the role of the Police, Health, Local Authorities and schools in making children aware of how modern slavery and child labour operates in the Country today.
1,500 judges have been trained to use legislation for life sentences for anybody convicted of Child labour/Modern Slavery.
Statutory agencies are confident in the legislation. Consultations are taking place with Directors (NHS) for strategic approaches using intelligence from hospitals when in contact with victims from County Lines.
Councillor Jemal (Chair) spoke regarding the importance of this work and wanted to know what key challenges had the Commissioner faced.
The Commissioner responded advising that there are ongoing political tensions and being open and honest isn’t always well received. There were also restrictions when recruiting staff members and funding cuts which impacted upon the budget.
Tony Theodoulou (Director of Children’s Services) asked for the Commissioner’s input with regards to next year’s focus on Albanian criminals operating in Enfield.
The Commissioner highlighted his experience with the Vietnamese criminal operations similar to the Albanian operations and will be spending time with the Albanian authorities and find out facts and where the drive is. Ultimately the Commissioner wants to identify where the risks are and whether it is possible to arrange “safe” returns for anyone liable.
Councillor Cazimoglu mentioned that the Police did not have a positive response with crimes such as prostitution in her ward and wanted to know what is being done about victims with learning disabilities and children being exploited.
The Commissioner advised that prostitution as an organised crime often linked to foreign nationals. It is usually difficult to get victims to cooperate and often there is a lack of information given but reiterated it is treated as a serious crime.
Regarding disabled/child exploitation, the new National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is to identify and refer victims for appropriate support this includes the involvement of child advocates.
Councillor Rye enquired regarding the Commissioner’s budget (£500,000) and whether this is a sufficient amount to carry out his objectives, Councillor Rye also asked about any failings encountered.
The Commissioner replied advising that he raised a further £100,000 but ideally wants around £900,000 as an overall budget. Regarding failings, the Commissioner stated that he wanted to change the policing system and raise awareness to the public about places that look suspicious such as some nail bars and car washes.
Councillor Rye mentioned that planning permission is required this could be refused if it was thought car washes where linked to modern slavery and child labour.