National PCC lead on Modern Slavery welcomes Independent Review Final Report (24 May 2019)

Welcoming the final report from the Independent review of the Modern Slavery Act, Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and national lead PCC on tackling modern slavery, said: "Modern slavery is an appalling crime that has an absolutely terrible effect on its victims as well as the wider community.

"We have come a long way in tackling these issues, especially over the 4 years since the Modern Slavery Act become law, and this final report builds on that good work with 80 recommendations for improvements.

"These recommendations largely align with many of my own observations. Specifically the points on transparency in supply chains (TISC) and the role of independent child trafficking advocates (ICTAs).

"The issue of ICTAs is significant and would improve the support for children and young people who have been trafficked, something which is crucial given the rise in 'county lines' style offending and the victims it leaves in its wake.

"Transparency in supply chains is another area of focus going forward which will lead to companies, as well as the public sector, being held accountable to eradicate potential modern slavery in their supply chains in its entirety.

"As the review identifies, there is a clear need for Government to take the lead in implementing the recommendations as well as providing sustained resources locally for police forces, law enforcement and partner agencies.

The release of the report comes as the PCC's National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network (NATMSN) held one of its quarterly meetings with a number of the recommendations already on the agenda.

The Network is now in its third year having been spearheaded by Mark Burns-Williamson in 2016 to bring together key agencies to discuss and improve work to combat modern slavery, strengthening collective commitment and encouraging a more strategic approach.

New Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Sara Thornton attended the NATMSN and addressed PCCs about her role and future plans as well as speaking about a number of issues covered by the final report.

The Modern Slavery Police Transformation Programme are also one of the key partners on the NATMSN and have also just launched their Annual Report.

It details work in partnership to tackle modern slavery and the huge impact that has had, most noticeably on referrals to the National Referral Mechanism as well as the number of on-going cases nationally.

The MSPTP was due to end this year but has just received a further year's funding from the Home Office.

Mark Burns-Williamson added: "The increase in identified cases means an increase in victims getting the help they so desperately need as well as crucially, the perpetrators being identified and facing justice.

"It's fantastic to see the continuing work by a whole host of agencies and the programme team in both tackling these issues and raising awareness. The further funding for the MSPTP is also wholeheartedly welcomed, along with the tangible differences the programme continues to make.

"Human trafficking and modern slavery are happening right now in our communities and we all need to work together to stop it. If you see anything suspicious, please report it to the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700, you could literally be saving lives."

Clare Gollop, Modern Slavery Police Transformation Programme Director, said: "This legislation applies to incredibly complex and tragic real world situations, and it is right that we seek to understand with urgency how to become even more effective at identifying victims and preventing offenders from harming people in this way . We welcome the insightful contributions of so many people and agencies to the Independent Review and will work closely with the Home Office in order to identify how to take these recommendations forward. Over the next year the specialist staff within the transformation programme will continue to focus on improving police investigations, improving our understanding of this kind of harm and working in partnership with others to take meaningful intervention and prevention activity."

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© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019