Last night, Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland OBE published his annual report, highlighting that support for victims of modern slavery needs to be long term.
It was encouraging that increased awareness of the crime has led to a marked increase of 159% in the number of modern slavery crimes being recorded by police in England and Wales, a development that the Commissioner wanted to see made from last year’s report. However, there is still a disparity between the number of people police formally recognise through an NRM as a victim of slavery, and police investigating the crime and filling out a report.
The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) acts as a gateway for adult victims to receive support and assistance and also provides key information to the Government about the nature and scale of trafficking in the UK.
Experts, NGOs, police and local authorities at the launch heard from survivors of modern slavery who emphasised that unless a long-term pathway of support is put in place – victims only currently receive 45 days in a safe house – then victims will end up vulnerable and destitute again.
The report accentuated the importance of training frontline staff in the NHS and the police force and raising awareness with them on the issue of modern slavery.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) has estimated that there are between 10,000 to 13,000 victims of slavery currently in the UK, although they have recognised that this number is just the tip of the iceberg.