Suspected modern slaves trigger rise in reports to Notts police

Photo by Pixabay
Photo by Pixabay

Reports of suspected modern slavery victims have risen in Nottinghamshire.

Nearly 100 potential victims were identified in the county in 2018, which was up from the previous year.

Home Office data shows that 97 potential victims were recorded by Nottinghamshire Police in the 12 months to June 2018, an increase of 13.

Modern slavery is an offence and can involve domestic servitude, forced sex work, or labour exploitation.

Suspected victims can be flagged to the Home Office via the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) by government agencies, police forces, councils and other organisations.

They are then assessed and can receive support including accommodation, legal aid and counselling.

An individual police force records the referrals where the exploitation is suspected to have happened in its area, or if it identified a potential victim in the first place.

It also records cases if the alleged victim was exploited abroad, and their address or that of the referring organisation was in the force area.

The rise in referrals to the Nottinghamshire police force reflects the trend across England and Wales, where around 7,800 were made in the 12 months to June, which was a 34% increase on the previous 12 months.

The Human Trafficking Foundation has welcomed an increase in the identification of potential victims nationally, but claims some are dropping off the radar.

Tamara Barnett, head of the foundation, said the rise was welcome news, as it reflected an increased willingness and ability of authorities and the public to identify slavery victims.

But the proportion of people entering the NRM who are then recognised as having been trafficked has remained stagnant, she said.

“We also know only about 7% of cases investigated go to the Crown Prosecution Service, and only about 1% receive compensation,” she added.

“Perhaps most shockingly of all, the Government has no idea what happens to these thousands of victims when they exit the NRM.

“This is a terrifying oversight. These are the areas we would really welcome the Prime Minister and other parties to consider in their policies and manifestos going forward.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “Modern slavery and human trafficking are barbaric crimes and we remain committed to stamping it out and supporting victims.”