Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services has carried out the first thematic inspection of the police response to modern slavery and human trafficking since the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act in 2015.
The report concluded that there were signs of progress in the policing response to modern slavery. But it also found that “in too many cases, police work was reactive” and “showed little understanding of the nature and scale of modern slavery and human trafficking”.
PSAEW President Chief Superintendent Gavin Thomas said:
“Modern slavery is a horrendous crime that causes untold damage both to its victims and to wider society.
“I am pleased this report recognised the growing impetus by policing and its partners to improve the response to what is a complex, difficult and by its very nature carefully hidden crime.
“We know there are tens of thousands of victims who need help and there are hundreds of policing operations ongoing across the UK.
“Modern slavery is just one type of crime against vulnerable people that police are dealing with. Others include forced marriage, child sexual abuse, so-called honour-based abuse, FGM, domestic abuse, stalking and harassment. This is not an exhaustive list.
“Police are also dealing with the massive demand of missing people and those whose mental health brings them into contact with us.
“This is on top of the demand from crimes such as burglary, knife and gun violence, anti-social behaviour, the ongoing terrorism threat, and the rise in cyber and internet-based crime. Again, this is not an exhaustive list.
“I recognise the points made in the HMICFRS report and I know that policing will always strive to improve and to do its very best for those who need us.
“But this is yet more evidence that the service is struggling to cope with the weight of demands and the volume of work that is being placed on it, having lost £2bn from its budgets and 34,000 officers and staff.
“Again, I have to state the need for an open, honest and transparent debate and review with government and the public about what the police service should be expected to do, what it should not do, and the resources it needs.”