The Home Secretary has announced radical reforms to boost support for slavery victims in the UK as a new elite multi-agency intelligence unit starts work to tackle human trafficking.
Amber Rudd revealed more will be done to ensure victims get the help they need as she visited the new £1 million government-funded Joint Slavery Trafficking Analysis Centre. The dedicated unit – made up of analysts from the National Crime Agency, police, Border Force, Immigration Enforcement, HMRC and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority - mirrors a joint working model successfully used to gather vital intelligence on terrorism.
The Home Secretary observed its first days of operation as it brings together a multi-agency team of analytical experts who will be embedded in the National Crime Agency to help tackle cross-border and domestic slavery.
Ms Rudd revealed the first focus of the centre, that will see expert analysts from each partner join forces to maximise results, will be on adult victims of sexual exploitation.
The Home Secretary said:
It is exactly this kind of co-operation between the police, Border Force, the National Crime Agency and others that will be our way of getting at the people traffickers.
The Centre will enable us to have a co-ordinated push against the organised crime groups that are at the heart of the trade in human beings and human misery. Our message to the perpetrators is clear; we are coming after you, and there is nowhere to hide.
The launch comes as new NCA figures reveal the growing scale of the global crisis, with victims referred for help in the UK now coming from 108 different countries in just one year. Many have also been exploited from within this country, with the UK the third most common country of origin.
More victims of slavery than ever before are now receiving help. The Home Secretary welcomed the 17% rise as more potential victims are identified and have the confidence to come forward, but acknowledges the need to shake up the current system to ensure they have the support they need.
The Home Secretary added:
In this country alone, there are thousands of poor souls being exploited and abused. Many of them will have come here on the promise of a better life; those hopes will have been crushed.
New figures this week show that over 3,800 potential victims – from 108 different countries – were referred to support in 2016, through the National Referral Mechanism, which is the system we established for identifying victims.
As a country, I think we are rightly proud of what we have achieved. That’s more potential victims than ever being helped. But being proud of what we have done so far isn’t the same as being complacent about it. That’s why today I am committing us to go further in making sure that we have the right system in place to help those in the trap of modern slavery find a way out of it.
The Home Secretary pledged to transform the National Referral Mechanism system that currently provides a package of support to suspected slavery victims. The findings of an 18 month pilot that examined ways of improving the current system will be published later this year, with the Home Secretary announcing work to identify more victims and streamline the process of helping them.
, will encourage more professionals to refer potential victims and ensure they receive the support they need to exit slavery for good.