A new report criticizes British police for failing to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking, leaving the victims unprotected.
“While modern slavery cases can be complex and require significant manpower, many of the shortcomings in investigating these cases reflect deficiencies in basic policing practice,” Wendy Williams, the Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services said on Tuesday.
Modern slavery is an umbrella term used for various forms of coercion reminiscent of ancient slavery, where victims faced exploitation from forced labor or forced marriage and refusal amounted to threats, violence and abuse of power.
The report also added that even when the victims were identified, investigations were closed prematurely, with senior officers openly expressing their unwillingness to pursue the cases.
It also said that police have been reluctant to identify victims and uncover cases of modern slavery because of the volume of complex work. Some even shrugged the idea of modern slavery and trafficking as being “rare and only affecting certain communities.”
The independent anti-slavery commissioner, Kevin Hyland said that the official estimate of the number of human trafficking victims in the UK
is 13,000, adding the “true number is in the tens of thousands.”
According to the report, cases can occur in rural and metropolitan areas, from beauty salons to construction sites, and activities can range from domestic servitude to the trafficking of children for sexual exploitation.
The inspectorate found that the victims face lives of domestic servitude and sexual exploitation, among other abuses.
In August, 11 members of a family from Lincolnshire were convicted of a series of modern slavery offences in a high-profile case. They had forced at least 18 victims, including homeless people and some with learning disabilities, to work for little or no pay and live in unclean conditions for up to 26 years.
The criticism is being leveled by the official police oversight body as positive examples to look for modern slavery and human trafficking offences were “generally relatively small pockets of good practice, or recent first steps.”
“They told us this was partly because they did not feel equipped to handle such cases, but also because of demanding caseloads,” the inspectorate said. “The serious problems we encountered as part of our review of case files.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for modern slavery, Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, said the inspection ended in April when specialist teams came into operation to help improve the response by forces to modern slavery.
“The police service is now actively seeking out and uncovering modern slavery. Across England and Wales there are currently over 400 active investigations – an increase of 218% from November 2016, 85% of which are led by the police,” he said.
“The policing challenge ahead is considerable, but we are committed to building on our achievements and improving our approach so we consistently safeguard victims and crack down on those who make profit from people,” he added.
There have been several high profile stories that made headlines over the past recent years in Britain
, stories that portray migrants in a negative light. Many of them are desperate and in search of a better life from countries that many argue Britain
has destroyed or destabilized through war and foreign policy.