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FLEX: Government must address police failures on modern slavery

October 24, 2017

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has today revealed serious failings in the police response to modern slavery in the UK. This report echoes concerns raised by FLEX early this year, that low awareness, lack of resources and inconsistent training were leading police to let down victims of modern slavery.

Commenting on the report, Focus on Labour Exploitation Director Caroline Robinson said:

“At FLEX we have heard stories of victims being turned away from police stations or being wrongly criminalised as a result of low awareness among frontline officers. We have also heard of victims going back to exploiters because the polce could not help them. HMIC is right to call for greater leadership and more training to make sure these victims do not continue to fall through the cracks.”

Despite efforts to improve, forces such as the Metropolitan Police have told FLEX that lack of resources is one of the biggest barriers to helping victims to leave exploitation and report the crimes committed against them. Robinson said:

“Those who have been exploited have many immediate needs. When police cannot provide even the basics such as a place to sleep, many return to their traffickers as they have nowhere else to go. If the government is serious about tackling modern slavery, it must ensure law enforcement are fully resourced and trained to recognise and support victims.”

Notes to editors:

– Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) works to end human trafficking for labour exploitation.

– The HMIC report Stolen freedom: the policing response to modern slavery and human trafficking can be found here.