As shown in the latest report, Metropolitan Police are failing to address the increasing issue of human trafficking in the UK.
In the report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire Rescue Services, senior police officers have claimed that cases are being closed prematurely due to the insufficient evidence and absence of public sympathy towards the victims.
In the Guardian, Wendy Williams, the inspector of constabulary, said: “We found inconsistent, even ineffective, identification of victims and investigations closed prematurely. As a result, victims were being left unprotected, leaving perpetrators free to continue to exploit people as commodities.”
Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act in 2002 became a law that made human trafficking and prostitution illegal in the UK. A year later, in 2003 The Sexual Offences Act was introduced and made all forms of trafficking and sexual exploitation illegal, advocating a maximum of 14 years sentence to the convicted individuals. In 2010 Anti-Slavery Day was established in order to raise awareness and demolish all forms of modern slavery, human trafficking, and exploitation.
In his speech to students of Peace Studies at Bradford University, MP Oliver Heald, said: “Human trafficking threatens the human rights of millions every year and represents a new form of slavery. Human trafficking is the second largest organized crime in the world; there are millions of victims at any given time with profits of traffickers worldwide estimated in excess of $32 billion each year.
“In the UK, those who are exploited may face years of sexual abuse, forced labor or domestic servitude. They are vulnerable women, children, and men who often speak no English and are kept isolated. In many instances, they never fully recover from their traumatic experience.”
Modern-day slavery is on the rise. Reports by National Crime Agency shows that in 2016, identified victims of the human trafficking reached a total number of 1,278 people, all-time highest record. Majority of them are the most vulnerable – single women and children. People are often being forced into hard labor, physically and emotionally abused by their perpetrators. According to the Guardian, there are a number of cases in which police have allegedly failed to acknowledge and investigate human trafficking issue.
In the beginning of the year, police were called to the address where they believed Chinese Nationals ran a brothel and arrested a 48-year-old woman on suspicion of living illegally in the UK. After it was proven that she was in the country legally, she was returned to the address by the police officers. Allegedly, on the way back, the woman disclosed her concerns about the business the man was running, yet was left at the property regardless. As reported by the Guardian, “later, other officers concluded that she might be a victim of modern slavery and human trafficking, but by the time they returned the property had been vacated. The woman is now a missing person and at risk of continued exploitation and trafficking. “
Words: Ieva Sulavaite I Subbing: Silvia Tadiello