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Tackling Modern Slavery: The current state of play

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The Modern Slavery Act 2015 at last gave law enforcement agencies in England and Wales new powers to tackle the crimes of slave labour and human trafficking, introduced tougher sentences for perpetrators and increased protection for victims.

It also highlighted a shocking reality: modern slavery is happening right now in Britain.

What’s the scale?

It’s been estimated there are 13,000 people working as slaves in the UK today.

Victims include women forced into prostitution, ‘imprisoned’ domestic staff, and individuals forced to work on farms, in factories and on fishing boats.

From nail bars and car washes to construction sites and the hospitality industry, modern slavery takes place in plain sight.

Its victims include individuals trafficked into the UK and forced into hard labour, locked up and abused – as well as vulnerable UK nationals who have been kidnapped, stripped of their basic rights and forced to work against their will for long hours for little or no pay, and in dire conditions.

Modern slavery is an appalling crime. It can affect men, women and children. And it’s taking place under our noses.

What’s more, it’s a growing problem. Take for example the number of potential victims trafficked into the UK.

In 2015 almost 3,500 people were identified as potential victims of trafficking - a 40% increase on 2014 figures.

Latest initiatives

In October last year Home Secretary Amber Rudd reaffirmed the government’s commitment to stamp out modern slavery when she announced the availability of £8.5 million of funding to help law enforcement agencies tackle this horrendous crime.

The funds are being used to kick start the national effort, led by Devon and Cornwall Police, which aims to improve the country’s enforcement response to modern slavery by providing high quality intelligence and analysis to assess the threat at a national and regional level.

As a result, over 50 additional analysts, specialists and investigators have been put in place to assist police in England and Wales transform their response to this complex crime.

The news was music to our ears. Because using data science to help discover and free victims – and tackle those who commit modern slavery crimes - is something we know a lot about.

Portal Supports ‘Stop the Traffik’

Last year we worked with IBM to enhance its i2 Analyst’s Notebook platform. Our job was to enable better modern slavery intelligence capturing, analysis and reporting capabilities.

We also gave our services to Stop the Traffik – a global charity dedicated to ending human trafficking and releasing victims caught in its grip.

With our help, Stop the Traffik has been able to make use of industry-leading investigative analytics software to boost its intelligence-led prevention unit. We also created a common data model that allows data to be shared with enforcement agencies and other Home Office departments.

As the battle to tackle modern slavery ramps up, we’ll take a look at how the police are using intelligence and data analytics to tackle the issue.

In the meantime, if you’d like to know more about how data analytics could help your organisations, simply click here.