The Numbers Game. Exactly How Many?

Greetings from The Slave Detective,

I have just returned from the USA addressing students in Georgia and Tennessee. Many thanks to all those who filled the venues and asked great questions. I may post some of them on future blogs.

One of the questions repeatedly asked was ‘How Many Victims are there?’

That of course is ‘THE’ question. Most figures are what I call ‘guesstimates’. Guess how many Drugs Dealers are in your town and I may be able to come up with a more accurate number. There are few that would argue that the number isn’t huge.

The Solicitor General of The UK release a letter this week titled:-

‘Prosecuting human trafficking and slavery, the law and the UK response’

About halfway down the letter he states that victims who were referred to the ‘System’ in 2011 were :-

” 946 potential victims of human trafficking including 234 child victims were identified in the UK by the NRM.” (National Referral System). This is of course not the full picture but gives how many new victims came forward for 2011.

This means that in the UK there are almost three people a day actually identified as victims. Almost one child a day.

Remember these are actual victims that have been referred for help.

The report states:-

“The numbers of people trafficked and the source, transit and destination countries continue to change and evolve as traffickers seek to exploit new and more profitable opportunities.
It is therefore crucial that we monitor the constantly changing pattern of human trafficking to and in the UK, in order to support victims and deter and disrupt traffickers. ”

The report also goes on to say other interesting facts.

As I published before there were only eight prosecutions for Human Trafficking in 2011. It appears that this is acceptable!

“Ministry of Justice data for England and Wales in 2011 shows that the number of defendants found guilty, on a principal offence basis, for human trafficking offences (this means that the human trafficking count was the most serious on the indictment), was eight. In 2010, it was 16.”

“While these were the numbers of convictions for specific trafficking offences, they do not include all traffickers convicted – this is because many traffickers are convicted for alternative, but related, offences.
Data from the Crown Prosecution Service’s systems, although less robust, gives an indication of the number of defendants convicted where there was an original charge for trafficking  but where that particular charge was subsequently dropped or amended, or where the defendant pleaded guilty to or was convicted of an alternative offence. The data generated by this approach shows that the number of defendants charged was 142 in 2011-12 (in 2010-11 that figure was 103). Two thirds of those defendants were convicted, which equates to 94 defendants.”

This means that we have officially gone back to ‘the bad old days’! This was where, as a prosecution agency, we drop the more serious offence of Human Trafficking (14yrs max imprisonment) for much lesser offences, often Controlling Prostitution in Sexual Exploitation Cases (7yrs).

This was something leveled at the Police when I set up The Human Trafficking Team in 2006. The POPPY Project pointedly stated that nothing would change by creating the new team and that victims would continue to be labeled as ‘prostitutes’ as a result of such action rather than survivors.

This stance changed when they realised the The Human Trafficking Team investigated Human Trafficking. We never accepted plea’s of guilty to lesser offences but empowered the victims by convicting their traffickers.

The letter concludes with:-

“To conclude, I would like to reiterate the point I have made before: human trafficking is a global issue.  The UK takes the issue seriously and uses the international framework to properly create and apply domestic legislation.”

It then lists the measures being taken. Read the letter it is enlightening. I think it makes depressing reading as there is little justification as to why the response is so poor. Nor does it offer any robust replies for dealing with trafficking.

I challenge that “the issue is being taken seriously”. I suspect we are back to dealing with the problem as cheaply as possible.

The Policing Budget has been slashed by 20% in London. I suspect that Crown Prosecutors have also had their purse strings tightened so that Specialist Prosecutors are not available for such cases and they get overlooked.

If the UK wants to tackle the problem seriously then get tough and prosecute for the much more serious offences

I wonder if The USA takes the same stance? I hope the TIP Report (Trafficking in Persons) for 2013 does not reflect this and that the USA leads the world on a tougher stance. The audiences I spoke to seemed to want this.




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