The National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network, which was created by West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson, has held its first meeting at the Home Office in London.
Police and crime commissioners from across England were at the event, also attended by Kevin Hyland – the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner – and Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for modern slavery.
The network, which was launched at the Home Office in January, involves police and crime commissioners signing up to an agreement to take a more strategic approach to tackle the issue by sharing best practice, helping in the identification and conviction of criminals, and ensuring their chief constables are regularly held to account on the work they are doing in tackling the crime.
Mr Burns-Williamson said: “This first meeting was a great success. By agreeing the terms of reference and the aims and objectives it has given the network a real direction which can already be seen by the fact that the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner and police have been asked to present their best practices on the next agenda as they have successful conviction rates under the Modern Slavery Act.
“There is a definite need for more national joined up working to raise awareness and share good practice throughout the UK, which is why I created this network. I also support the call by Mr Hyland for all chief constables to ensure the College of Policing’s e-learning package on modern slavery is mandatory for all police officers.
“I agree with Mr Hyland that raising awareness among officers, staff and partners on how to spot and deal with modern slavery crime is a vital step towards increasing the number of prosecutions and convictions of traffickers
and ensuring that victims receive the appropriate care.
“Partnership working is also essential with national partners including the National Crime Agency, but also local authorities and community safety partnerships to ensure we are all working together to tackle this cruel crime.”
Mr Sawyer spoke at the event about the work being done by him and all the other chief constables in trying to raise awareness of human trafficking and the Modern Slavery Bill and the need for forces to consider having a dedicated human trafficking team or resource, with smaller forces potentially looking at regional collaborations.
A senior police officer from Romania was also at this week’s event to show the work done internationally with countries that have large numbers of victims.
The network is due to meet again in May.