PCC champions victim-centred approach in tackling modern slavery (15 Jan 2019)

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has called for a victim-centred approach to tackling modern slavery whilst giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee today (16/01) as part of its Modern Slavery inquiry.

Mark, who is also the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) Modern Slavery Lead said:

"I have been very focussed about tackling modern slavery and human trafficking for a number of years, which is a key commitment in my Police and Crime Plan for West Yorkshire, as well as helping coordinate and lead a national response on behalf of PCCs.

"Today, I shared my own experiences with the committee to assist in building a national picture, which will essentially help us to respond more effectively to these horrendous crimes and abuses. In particular, I talked about the need for more collaborative working, greater care for victims and survivors, as well as additional resources and training.

"Here in West Yorkshire, I have supported the creation of a dedicated team of detectives, focused on tackling Human Trafficking. Under my Safer Communities Fund, I have also provided over £75,000 to 17 separate local organisations, which work specifically to address and tackle these important issues.

"Likewise, I have helped to set up local and national networks of key partners, strengthening our joint response. More recently, my office held a partnership conference to explore the links between homelessness and modern slavery.

"Whilst there has been substantial progress in tackling these issues, clearly more needs to be done and I welcome the opportunity to set out how we are working with policing partners and others, to reduce such criminality and help safeguard victims and survivors of human trafficking.

"There are significant complexities in how we tackle modern slavery, investigations are often extremely resource and time intensive, victims often don't speak English and some don't even realise they are being exploited.

"The needs of the victim must be central to any response. Ensuring that there are adequate services for victims is crucial in supporting them and reducing their vulnerability through empowerment. We must to continue to develop our skills, understanding and responses, raising awareness and sharing best practice through local, regional and national networks.

"There also needs to be greater clarification on the roles of other organisations, in particular local authorities (LAs), health and other statutory bodies. It is only through sustained partnership working with key partners and specialist third sector and charitable organisations that we can make the real difference and stop these awful abuses once and for all."

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019