The response of the police to modern slavery victims ‘hinders’ the prosecution of traffickers and exploiters, a charity has claimed.
A new report from the modern slavery charity Hestia found that in 2018 there was a 250% increase in modern slavery operations by police forces.
However, the report, entitled Underground Lives: Police response to victims of modern slavery, revealed that only 7% of recorded cases were referred to the Crown Prosecution Service.
The charity says that a ‘lack of understanding’ of modern slavery and the needs of vulnerable victims by the police discourages victims from supporting investigations against traffickers.
According to the report, police officers receive ‘minimal training’ as students and are ‘ill-prepared’ to sensitively manage interviews that will lead to collaboration with victims and therefore prosecutions of traffickers.
A Freedom of Information request submitted by Hestia to all England police forces found that only two of the 29 that responded included training on modern slavery as part of their continuous development.
‘When a victim of modern slavery is met with disbelief instead of support, prosecution levels of exploiters remain exceptionally low, allowing criminals to stay active on our streets and victimise more vulnerable people,’ said Patrick Ryan, CEO of Hestia.
‘Frontline police officers need support and training so that victims have the confidence to cooperate and support prosecutions. Without survivors’ voices there are no convictions.’