In 2014, more people were identified as victims of human trafficking in London than any other region in the UK. In the same year, the levels of recorded victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation and labour exploitation were equal across the UK. However research by FLEX reveals that in London the identification of victims of labour exploitation is much lower than the rest of the UK. In light of FLEX’s research, we asked the Police and Crime Committee of the London Assembly to question what is being done in the capital to help identify the many victims of labour exploitation.
On Thursday 26th November the Police and Crime Committee met with Stephen Greenhalgh the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime and Craig Mackey QPM the Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, to discuss the topic of modern slavery and policing in London. When asked about the extent of modern slavery in London, the Deputy Commissioner was clear that it is a growing problem with increasing numbers of victims being identified, attributing this to growing awareness around issues of modern slavery.
During Thursday’s meeting the Police and Crime Committee were keen to highlight that modern slavery is not only a problem of sexual exploitation but also labour exploitation. FLEX welcomed comments by Andrew Dismore AM on the police approach to modern slavery. In response to questioning, Craig Mackey QPM outlined the range of training and awareness measures that are now implemented to ensure that all new police recruits understand different types of exploitation – including mandatory training and e-learning packages.
While FLEX supports work to increase training on modern slavery, until labour exploitation is made a priority, the police will not be appropriately supported to identify victims. FLEX has found that despite police training, very few cases are being referred by local borough police forces to the Metropolitan Police’s Anti-trafficking and Kidnap Unit. Only 7% of cases referred to the unit this year were for forced labour. This is far fewer than would be expected given that a third of victims identified nationally are victims of trafficking for labour exploitation.
FLEX looks forward to working with the Police and Crime Committee in their ongoing efforts to shine a light on this problem in London and to bring change to the way labour exploitation is tackled across the Capital.