Greetings from The Slave Detective,
Its that time again, when the Trafficking in Persons Report is produced.
My first move is always to look at how the Uk is performing. The TIP report says the UK is doing ok.
What is more troubling is the underlying tones in the report.
As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in the UK. The government reports 10,627 potential victims came through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), with the latest government estimates of up to 13,000 trafficking victims present in the UK.
Prosecutions for Human Trafficking have drastically reduced during that time.
Potential victims comprise 91 nationalities with the largest source countries being the UK, Albania, and Vietnam. Twenty-six percent of potential victims assert their exploitation occurred entirely outside of the UK.
The TIP report states that “Labour trafficking is the most common form of exploitation among adults and minors.” This is in the main due to the great work of the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority
It also very much to do with the fact that focus has been turned away from investigating allegations of Sex Trafficking. If you don’t investigate it it is no longer a problem. This has meant that the UK has regressed to the bad old days when prostitution was not a focus of Trafficking investigations and victims were afraid to come forward.
Nearly half of all victims identified are children. Children in the care system and unaccompanied migrant children are particularly at risk of trafficking.
This has been highlighted since 2005 when operation Paladin attempted to dig down into this. Of course the funding was removed from this investigation and no one has taken up the challenge.
Youth trafficked by gangs are forced to act as drug couriers from larger cities into rural areas across the UK. Traffickers force adults and children to work in agriculture, cannabis cultivation, construction, food processing, factories, domestic service, nail salons, food services, the hospitality industry, and car washes, as well as on fishing boats.
This issue has also been around for many years. Intelligence services have targeted intelligence on what they refer to as “County Lines Gangs”
There have been high profile operations against the heads of these gangs but have we seen any prosecutions for Human Trafficking Offences? The answer is…… ‘NO’
The TIP Report also states:-
As of October, the government reported 1,090 police trafficking investigations in England and Wales.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which handled cases in England and Wales, prosecuted 349 defendants on trafficking charges with 251 convictions in 2019.
CPS data did not differentiate between sex and labour trafficking, nor did the government provide data on the range of sentencing of convicted traffickers or percentage of convicted traffickers serving prison time.
It also didn’t specify if the convictions related to offences they were charged with.
Since 2011 and the demise of a dedicated Human Trafficking Response in the UK it has been common place to charge with Human Trafficking Offences and then accept a plea of Guilt on lesser offences. I doubt the true number of Human Trafficking Convictions is anywhere near this number, even though its woefully low.
In truth there are no units capable with dedicating resources to these difficult and challenging investigations. Crime Management wants quick results and maximum press exposure.
Kevin Hyland showed this when he splashed the story of 3 victims held for 30years.
The story was soon brushed under the carpet. The investigation failed because it was poorly handled. Mr Hyland went onto be the Human Trafficking Commissioner, another role where he failed to deliver. He now is a fierce critic of The Trafficking Commissioners Office. They who adopted his failures.
I have no time for his views. He was responsible for what we have today. The failure to support Trafficking Victims.
Finally there are two good news messages for the UK in the TIP report.
During the reporting period, courts convicted a man serving as a special constable for the Metropolitan Police Service to four years’ imprisonment for sex trafficking.
The Offence happened in 2015 and was reported in 2017. They were convicted in February 2019 after a trail. Their sentence is on the low side of sentencing especially as this person was a Volunteer Police Officer.
The other great bit of news is that Northern Ireland still carry the torch for dedicated task forces against Human Trafficking.
Young women and girls from Albania, Bulgaria, and Romania, including ethnic Roma, remain vulnerable to sex trafficking in Northern Ireland. In 2019, the Police Service in Northern Ireland added five new detectives to the anti-trafficking unit to help manage the potential increase in cases as a result of the UK leaving the EU.
They also continue to secure great results targeting trafficking gangs with Trafficking Legislation.
I’m proud to say I worked with this unit in 2010 and offered hands on assistance to their operations at that time. Great to see they continue to support victims along with the GLAA in mainland UK. If Sexual Exploitation is still an issue in Northern Ireland which fools is saying there isn’t this problem on The Mainland? Enough about Kevin Hyland!