Today we met police officers from Metropolitan Police to discuss problems and solutions in regards to identifying and supporting victims of human trafficking for forced labour. Forced labour takes place in all sectors and industries, from agriculture to cleaning to food processing to forced stealing of goods. Forced labour is one of forms of modern slavery and is not only a serious crime but also a violation of human rights. Victims have to be protected and supported in order to return them their independence and allow to lead fulfilled lives.
This is why it is so important that we develop direct and close links with the police and other relevant partners so that Eastern Europeans who seek help and protection may have this support provided.
The meeting was hosted by Labour Exploitation Advisory Group, of which we are members. LEAG is run by the Focus on Labour Exploitation. We discussed the role of the police in identifying modern slavery cases and investigating this serious crime with a view of bring perpetrators to justice. We focused on how various actors, including charities like ours, can work together to get the best outcomes for victims and about bringing down barriers that prevent people from getting justice they deserve.
Tackling modern slavery is a massive task that requires involvement from different actors in a coordinated way that keeps the victim’s best interest at heart. We believe that we all have a role in helping to see the end of modern slavery:
- migrant and specialist charities to help victims to report a crime, access support mechanisms and provide emotional support throughout
- the police to investigate and prosecute perpetrators
- local authorities and housing providers to satisfy victims’ needs of safe housing solution
- health services to address physical and mental health effects of modern slavery
- the general public to take notice of cases of suspected slavery and alarm the police or other safeguarding institution.
We are going to work together to develop models of cooperation and we are looking forward to future meetings and actions they will bring.