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Tackling Modern Slavery: The Local Authority Perspective

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The UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015 set an international benchmark for legislators. As well as providing a modern definition of slavery and human trafficking, it enshrined these activities as serious criminal offences.

It also imposed a new obligation on Local Authorities in England and Wales – that of notifying the Secretary of State if they have reasonable grounds to believe a person may be a victim of slavery or human trafficking.

Taking a stand

Up and down the country, Local Authorities are gearing up to tackle modern slavery. And they have significant grounds for doing so. Because identifying the clues and signposts to victims, so they can be helped, is just part of the battle.

From forced labour to prostitution, the wider impact of modern slavery has significant implications for the fabric of local communities.

That’s because criminal gangs operating in this field are often involved in a number of related and highly profitable rackets. Everything from organised street crime and begging to shop lifting, rogue trading and benefit fraud.

What’s the challenge?

Ending modern slavery is no easy task. It involves:

  • Managing and tracking intelligence and data from a multitude of sources
  • Close liaison with other agencies to cross check and make best use of information
  • Collaboration with police, HMRC, UK Immigration Enforcement agencies, the Health & Safety Executive and the Home Office as well as charitable and voluntary expert groups
  • The creation of evidence bases on offenders and victims
  • The prevention of child abuse and organised sexual exploitation
  • Disseminate information sharing to ensure that businesses that break the rules on pay or safety or employing those brought into the UK illegally are caught

These collaboration activities often involve Local Authorities in data-driven exercises to spot the local footprint of a variety of modern slavery crimes, including:

  • Identifying businesses illegally employing immigrant workers
  • Identifying properties being utilised as brothels
  • Proactively inspecting houses of multiple occupation to identify accommodation under the control of gangmasters and which may be used to house victims of debt bondage
  • Evaluating landlord data to cross-check connections

Uncovering data connections

At Portal, we’ve been helping Local Authorities unravel data from multiple sources – including partner agencies – to achieve clear, concise intelligence on modern slavery, gang violence, as well as benefits and environmental health investigations.

Our visual analytics tools enable previously hidden connections within raw data to be unearthed. So that potential areas of concern can be quickly – and cost effectively – identified and interventions organised.

By turning small pieces of information into intelligence – and that intelligence into evidence – data analytics is proving highly effective at enabling a whole range of initiatives – from gang prevention projects for young people who are used by gang masters to deal drugs or commit street robberies, to reducing the number of children missing from homes or the likelihood of domestic abuse.

If you’d like to know more about how data analytics could be helping your organisation to tackle a range of modern slavery issues, simply click here.