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Tackling the Scourge of Modern Day Slavery

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Modern Slavery is real and happening in our towns and cities. Ranging from forced labour and prostitution to debt bondage and organ harvesting; organised criminals are exploiting men, women and children in the UK. Many of the victims are illegally trafficked from economically/politically unstable countries around the world with a promise of a new life in Europe, however, almost as many victims are UK and EU nationals.

Following the publication of the Modern Slavery Act in 2015, local and national policing agencies have become duty bound to respond in an effective way to intelligence about potential exploitation.

This requirement to act led to the production of a Modern Slavery tracker, which was sent to all police forces requesting that they share information and intelligence with national teams. The completion and submission of this tracking document was always going to be difficult to keep on top of for many reasons;

  • All Police Forces in the UK have their own Crime, Intelligence and Custody systems, however, the flavour of these vary enormously. With individual forces using a range of systems and a multitude of platforms to perform all of their data collection and collation. The Modern Slavery spreadsheet does not use language that is common to all systems and requires each force to make interpretations.
  • Much information relating to modern slavery is not immediately obvious as being relevant, and requires significant intervention to correctly code, flag and link it in source systems.
  • There is no single national intelligence sharing platform in place to deal with Modern Slavery data. Police forces in the UK currently share information over a couple of platforms.

With all these barriers, it became obvious over the initial period of running the tracker, that forces were struggling to complete it. However; one force within the North West realised that they had an opportunity to have a real impact on people's lives and set up a specific team to focus on the collection of Modern Slavery data and the investigation of incidents.

Investigation of Modern Slavery doesn't just ensure that criminals who are exploiting others for their own gain are stopped and jailed, it also impacts other areas of organised crime such as drug supply, money laundering and violence – which have been monitored within the spreadsheet since mid-2015 to track all incidents of Modern Slavery.

During 2016, they began to realise that Excel isn't the best system to record this data and they would seek to procure an intelligence system to do the job. There is only one natural system to record this type of data, which is so reliant on the linkage between people, places and events, and that is IBM i2.

Portal have been working with several Police Forces over the last 12 months to convert the tracking spreadsheet into a tracking database and to provide templated management information reports. The system provides a simple data entry form to allow those responsible for Modern Slavery to thoroughly record each incident, the victims, suspects, locations, intelligence, crime and referrals. Outcomes are then recorded and automatically linked. Early results were very positive; upon initial import of the data from their Excel tracker, the team discovered that they had recorded many repeat victims and possible suspects on their tracker without realising. In addition, their reporting became much more streamlined with their standard management information reports created in around one hour (compared to 3 days).

In July 2016, Theresa May wrote a piece for the Sunday Telegraph on how her government would lead the way in defeating Modern Slavery. A taskforce would be set up and an independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner would be appointed. Independent commentators quickly voiced that the recording and sharing of Modern Slavery data was central in the fight to combat the criminals, and at the moment this simply not true. As Head of Analytics, I was immediately on the case, securing meetings with the Home Office and others seeking validation for our idea of turning the local solution we were already providing individual police forces into a national solution.

As of April 1st, 2017, there is now a national intelligence requirement for all police forces to send data to the national portfolio team on a monthly basis. With the growing pressure of accurate and timely intelligence capture and reporting it is imperative that law enforcement use technology available to them in the best possible way to answer these questions. Portal and IBM have joined together to help Law Enforcement in the UK fight against Modern Slavery through a Modern Slavery Tracker.

Looking to the future there are many more aspects of policing where this solution can be used to achieve similar aims. Other areas, rooted in Organised Crime, such as people trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation could be built into this tracker solution and we could begin to realise the formulation of a true national intelligence sharing platform.

To discover more about how Portal are helping to tackle Modern Slavery, view our dedicated landing page here. Alternatively, head on over to our Twitter feed to ask us a question, or use our contact form to get in touch.