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Tackling Modern Slavery: The Law Enforcement Perspective

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In her independent review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, Caroline Haughey highlighted the need for better intelligence and a more structured approach to identifying, investigating, prosecuting and preventing slavery.

It resulted in the Home Secretary making £8.5 million of funding available to help law enforcement agencies tackle this horrendous crime.

Money that has made it possible to put over 50 analysts and specialists in place to assist police in England and Wales transform how they deal with this complex offence.

But what makes this such a difficult crime to tackle?

What’s the challenge?

Law enforcement agencies are determined to end modern slavery, targeting slave drivers and saving vulnerable people from a lifetime of suffering.

But they face a number of challenges:

  • Managing and tracking modern slavery intelligence
  • Victim and perpetrator identification
  • Analysis of data from multiple disparate sources
  • Reducing the cost of modern slavery interventions

While many UK police forces are taking a proactive approach to combating modern slavery through the development of bespoke units, their efforts require considerable collaboration on a number of fronts.

Dealing with data

Spearheading drives that keep up the pressure on those who traffic and exploit human beings as commodities is no easy task.

Multi-agency operations often require that police work in collaboration with Immigration Enforcement and other partners – including Local Authorities – to identify premises and businesses where potential illegal activities may be taking place.

Modern slavery is now estimated to be the second largest illicit trade worldwide. The International Labour Organisation recently estimated that labour exploitation is worth $150bn worldwide per annum.

Intelligence gathering is a significant aspect and police authorities are instituting improvements in the way they gather and manage data and intelligence to gain a greater strategic understanding at both a national and more localised level.

That includes working with the Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Unit (MSHTU) – part of the National Crime Agency.

New national processes are also being developed that will enable police to gather more information around this type of crime in order to enrich understanding about how to spot victims and perpetrators.

Partnership working

Policing cannot tackle this problem alone. Developing partnership approaches with partners – like the Anti-Slavery Partnership – depends on developing great intelligence in order to pursue and prosecute a huge variety of crime types.

Last October Greater Manchester Police, Cheshire Constabulary, Merseyside Police, North Wales Police, Lancashire Constabulary and Cumbria Constabulary joined forces to send a clear message out to traffickers in the region.

During the week long operation police worked alongside a huge range of partner organisations. These included Immigration, Environmental Health, HMRC, Border Force, NHS, DWP and Stop the Traffik charity.

Our Modern Slavery analytics solution is helping law enforcement agencies in the UK tackle these challenges.

Enabling the standardisation of intelligence capture and reporting, it helps analysts track and understand the complex networks that relate to slavery. And that makes it possible for seemingly unrelated pieces of evidence to be brought together to help law enforcement join up the dots.

In our next blog post, we’ll explore how Local Authorities are using data to support the police and other authorities in the drive against modern slavery.

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