West Yorkshire’s PCC responds to the NCA’s National Referral Mechanism Annual Report Figures (19 Mar 2019)

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) said: "This report shows that increased awareness and understanding around modern slavery issues is leading to an increase in reporting.

"Modern slavery and human trafficking takes many forms and exists across all parts of the UK and is why I have been working with my fellow PCCs and other key partners to raise awareness.

"Also working with the Modern Slavery Police Transformation programme we have just produced a modern slavery toolkit for all Police and Crime Commissioners which can be used to raise awareness with their partners and communities working with their chief constables to deal with this awful abuses of human rights.

"The rise in the numbers of referrals to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) do not show an increase in cases but do show that more victims are being identified, more investigations are taking place and more victims are being supported, this is because of the investment law enforcement, PCCs and other partners, including the third sector and some businesses have made into this area.

"Good use of the legislation is also being made to prosecute offenders and support victims, including those subject to Child Sexual Exploitation(CSE) and Child criminal exploitation (CCE), including 'county lines', which affects vulnerable adults as well as children, through the NRM.

"We have a shared responsibility to support victims and reduce their vulnerability, the NRM is under review and reform and we need to make sure it provides the best possible support for all victims.

"Partnerships are a crucial part of the solution which is why I helped to create both the West Yorkshire Anti-Trafficking Network and the National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network, the latter of which I also chair.

"Modern slavery can be a complex crime and easy to overlook, but it is important to stop and think about the human cost. General indicators of human trafficking or modern slavery can include signs of physical or psychological abuse, fear of authorities, poor living conditions and working long hours for little or no pay.

"One of our best tools in the fight against human traffickers are our communities. We need our communities to report any suspicions, no matter how small, to the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 or to the Police."

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019