Slavery on Rise in UK: “Product of System’s Inadequacy”
Fotobank.ru/Getty Images/ Dan DennisonOpinion19:02 24.10.2017(updated 21:53 24.10.2017) Get short URL224901
A recent report by a British police watchdog has revealed a number of serious flaws in police combating modern slavery cases in the UK. In an exclusive interview with Radio Sputnik, Jeff Norman, a UK-based modern slavery and human trafficking specialist from Stop Slavery Today, discussed the measures that should be taken to tackle this issue.
Sputnik: What mechanisms could be proposed to efficiently deal with the problem? How could the victims of exploitation be protected?
Jeff Norman: So far as the police services are concerned the guidance and leadership must come from the top. I am more convinced that it is a high enough priority on the chief constables radar. It’s got to be recognized as serious organized crime. I mean we have been dealing with drug trafficking for many, many years and it’s been top of the political agenda and all of a sudden we can’t seem to get the grips of human trafficking and modern day slavery is exactly that serious and organized crime. We have the policy in place to deal with it, but until it’s recognized as such and until it gets the priority it deserves, those mechanisms just won’t have the effect to protect and identify those victims and put them back on the road to recovery, which is so desperately needed.”
Sputnik: What is the scope of the problem in the United Kingdom? What is your own assessment of how this issue has been tackled by the police?
Jeff Norman: It is a product of the system that we have in place, which is totally inadequate at the moment. The intelligence gathering capability is poor and if the identification of victims is substandard then obviously the figures that we do get are going to reflect that. The number that has been bandied about at the moment 13,000 possibly within modern slavery in the UK, I am sure is just the tip of the iceberg and until we can secure the proper procedures in place it’s going to be impossible to properly quantify it. There is a real contradiction here and it’s worth mentioning the important role the media has to play in this. There has been a great public outcry over the last few days in the UK following newspaper reports. Police awareness campaigns around human trafficking, so police officers paint their nails in a campaign, which was called “Let’s Nail It,” so it was looking to highlight problems surrounding human trafficking within nail bars within the UK. … Human trafficking does not go on in this country, it happens somewhere else beyond our borders and the media has a real responsibility to put a positive spin on this and help raise the awareness because the public is critical in quantifying exactly what the issue is. If the police and the public don’t know how to recognize the victims they will never be able to properly deal with it.
Sputnik: Where in the world are these slaves and human traffickers actually coming from? Are there particular communities in the UK that are particularly affected by this?
Jeff Norman: There are communities where it is more prevalent. The migrant situation that we have, lots of people moving across borders these days and some of them are economic migrants, whereas, some are escaping war so they are in real danger and fear for their lives. They are very vulnerable and prone to exploitation by the traffickers who promise riches and they end up being alienated and exploited. So we are talking about migrants from the Middle East from the war-torn countries such as Syria. Also Eastern Europe is another example of where these people unfortunately come from and Southeast Asia also, such as Vietnam. There are also people from Africa, so there are really so many countries. And again this is all based on the data and information that we have, which is in my view deficient.