The Home Secretary has reaffirmed the government’s commitment to stamp out modern slavery by today announcing £8.5 million of funding to help law enforcement agencies to tackle this horrendous crime.
The funding, granted until 2018/19 following a bid to the Police Transformation Fund, will 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, and an improved operational response throughout the investigative process.
The national effort, led by Devon and Cornwall Police, will provide over 50 additional analysts, specialists and investigators who will assist the police in England and Wales to transform the response to this complex crime.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said:
Modern slavery is a barbaric crime which destroys the lives of the most vulnerable in our society. This government has taken world-leading action to tackle it, by strengthening the law enforcement response and increasing support and protection for victims, but we must do even more.
That is why I am announcing significant investment that will help our law enforcement agencies bring the perpetrators of this intolerable crime to justice. Our message to slave-drivers and traffickers is clear: we are coming to get you and you have nowhere to hide.
The government’s world-leading Modern Slavery Act 2015 gave law enforcement new powers to tackle these crimes, introduced tougher sentences and increased protection for victims. The number of prosecutions and convictions have increased, with 289 modern slavery offences prosecuted in England and Wales in 2015. Record numbers of victims are also now coming forward to ask for help.
But there is more to do, and this investment is designed to address some of the areas for improvement highlighted by the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and Caroline Haughey in their recent reports.
Devon and Cornwall Police Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, the national policing lead on modern slavery, organised immigration crime and migration matters said:
I share the Home Secretary’s unequivocal commitment to further improving the UK response to modern slavery. Police have invested in specialist investigators, developed a cross-country network, trained officers and led successful operations to tackle trafficking and exploitation of people for profit.
This significant financial investment from the transformation fund enables us to do more. We will use the funding to bring in more specialist officers, improve our intelligence on traffickers and run more proactive operations that bring criminals to justice and protect victims.
The £8.5 million investment is the latest government action to improve the operational response. In July, the Prime Minister announced that she will chair a Modern Slavery Taskforce that will focus on the law enforcement response, and the Home Secretary instructed Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of the Constabulary to carry out a detailed inspection of the police response, which will begin later this year.