APCC Lead for Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery and APCC Chair Mark Burns-Williamson OBE said:
“As the Association of Police & Crime Commissioners (APCC) lead for human trafficking and modern slavery and Chair of the National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network (NATSM), I have observed with interest the key findings of the CPS report, in which they aim to help disrupt, prosecute and improve their response to these offences.
“It is encouraging to see a 27 per cent rise in the number of suspects charged with modern slavery and human trafficking offences compared to the previous year, and a 31 per cent increase in the numbers of cases referred to the CPS from police and other agencies as well as an increase in conviction rates.
“However, these investigations are often extremely complex and challenging, requiring a great deal of commitment and tenacity from all the officers and partner agencies involved in what are vile crimes against humanity. The CPS have recognised this; hence they are providing prosecutors with extensive and ongoing training which is welcome.
“Police and law enforcement agencies are building modern slavery cases on evidence that does not always primarily rely on the statement of victims and witnesses. This is very resource intensive needing the dedication and commitment of those who relentlessly pursue the perpetrators of these horrendous crimes seeking justice for the victims and survivors which is indeed commendable.
“Since the Modern Slavery Act 2015 came into force, these cases are able to be prosecuted with more robust legislation and I am encouraged that for the first time it is also being used to prosecute cases around the emerging threat of County Lines; the criminal exploitation of children and young people.
“Thanks to the efforts of the police and law enforcement the CPS and judiciary they are now able to pass tougher sentences in sending a clear message to those people who would exploit the vulnerable for profit, that this abuse will not be tolerated.
“The consensus is that human trafficking and modern slavery continues to have a devastating and destructive impact on individuals and our communities and we must maintain our commitment and momentum to tackle it.
“In my role as APCC lead and Chair of the national network, I am committed to driving forward the collective efforts of PCC colleagues, police and partners both regionally and nationally to help continue to keep the victims and survivors of this heinous crime at the heart of what we do.”
If you see anything suspicious, please report it to the Modern Slavery Helpline 08000 121 700 or visit www.modernslaveryhelpline.org or call police directly on 101.