A new multi-agency group in Hertfordshire has confirmed its commitment to work together to tackle modern slavery in the region, following a conference organised by Shiva Foundation, the Police Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire Constabulary and Hertfordshire County Council last week.
The event, which was held on 29th March and received support from Prime Minister Theresa May, brought together national anti-trafficking experts as well as key front-line representatives from the organisations involved.
The outcomes included:
- A dedicated new police unit for Hertfordshire, Operation Tropic, was unveiled
- New referral pathways for victims of modern slavery will be developed, which will feed into the existing National Referral Mechanism
- Frontline service teams at the heart of the ongoing strategy
- The next multi-agency meeting will take place next month
The new partnership will join up efforts to tackle human trafficking and ensure effective victim support by encouraging members to share knowledge and best practice. The aim is to ensure frontline services personnel are clear about how to respond to modern slavery, as well as what preventative measures they can put into practice.
An initial milestone is expected to be the creation of referral pathways, which were the focus of a workshop facilitated by Unseen at the conference. The resulting feedback is being compiled, the outcomes of which will be presented at the next multi-agency meeting in May.
Meenal Sachdev, Director of Shiva Foundation and Councilor for Hertsmere, said:
“The Hertfordshire conference demonstrated how committed the region’s community is to tackling modern slavery. I emphasised the importance of bringing organisations out of their silos and working together to combat this issue, and I believe the Hertfordshire partnership we have established will bring that ethos to life.”
“By sharing intelligence and expertise, we can ensure the statutory groups on the frontline are equipped to take action against criminals and support those who may be at risk. Partnering with key groups on a local level will help drive real change.”
David Lloyd, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, said:
“The conference showed just how much of a challenge this problem presents, but also that the partners are determined to work closely together to tackle the issues facing Hertfordshire. Closer partnership
working is part of my Community Safety and Criminal Justice plan for Hertfordshire and this conference was a prime example of that.”
“There was valuable input from policing colleagues from across the country and from important national figures in this area. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Shiva Foundation for pulling this together and look forward to further work in combatting Modern Slavery.”
The police response to modern slavery in Hertfordshire will be led by the dedicated new unit, Operation Tropic, which will provide assistance to investigating officers and report back to national leadership in the area.
Detective Superintendent Dave Wheatley, Hertfordshire Constabulary, said:
“Almost every modern slavery investigation will require a multi-agency response, from charities that provide support to victims to multiple law enforcement agencies that tackle trafficking. Therefore it is hugely beneficial for frontline staff from around the county to come together to share best practice and raise awareness of the issues surrounding this often complex and hidden crime.”
“The Constabulary’s Operation Tropic will play a leading role in developing and sustaining the partnership between these key stakeholders. This pilot represents a step change in how we tackle modern slavery in Hertfordshire and I know that other Forces around the country will be closely following our progress with a view to replicating our model.”
Sue Darker, Lead Officer for Safeguarding at Hertfordshire County Council, said:
“The Modern Slavery Conference was a great opportunity to share knowledge and expertise, to showcase our great working relationships and to promote Hertfordshire as a county that is forward thinking in its approach to protecting and caring for those who may have been exploited or are currently at risk of being abused or neglected. The Constabulary’s Operation Tropic pilot unit further emphasises the difference that we hope to make when tackling these very real and serious issues in the future.”
As part of Shiva Foundation’s commitment to driving collective action at a local level, it is also partnering with the Human Trafficking Foundation and ECPAT UK to host a London conference on 10th May to help ensure local London authorities can best tackle modern slavery through dedicated resources.
To help combat modern slavery, members of the public are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the possible indicators of trafficking and forced labour: http://www.gla.gov.uk/who-we-are/modern-slavery/who-we-are-modern-slavery-spot-the-signs/ Anyone wishing to report concerns about possible instances of modern slavery should call the UK modern slavery helpline and resource centre on 08000 121 700.
National Referral Mechanism (NRM)
The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a framework for identifying victims of human trafficking or modern slavery and ensuring they receive the appropriate support.
The NRM is also the mechanism through which the Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Unit (MSHTU) collect data about victims. This information contributes to building a clearer picture about the scope of human trafficking and modern slavery in the UK.
The conference came as new data showed a 17% increase in referrals made to the NRM in 2016 when compared with 2015. In the UK a total of 3,805 referrals were made last year, including 11 from the Hertfordshire area. During 2016 the Modern Slavery Helpline also had 19 potential victims identified in the Hertfordshire area.
Shiva Foundation is a corporate foundation that aims to tackle and prevent human trafficking and modern slavery in the UK, by facilitating a more collaborative and systemic approach to making change. Shiva Foundation works to educate local communities and prevent trafficking using expertise and knowledge, partners with like-minded organisations to scale innovation in this area, and creates and implements practical working models on the issue within the UK business sector.
Police Crime Commissioner
As Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, David Lloyd is responsible for appointing the county’s Chief Constable and holding him accountable for the way the local police force is run. David is also in charge of setting the policing budget and council tax precept.
As well as working closely with the police, he works with a full range of other public services including health, social services, probation and other organisations that deal with a variety of issues related to crime, community safety or criminal justice. Together they are working to reduce crime, keep the communities safe and ensure that the criminal justice system works well.
Round the clock more than 3,600 police officers and police staff work hard to provide a policing service to the public of Hertfordshire, supported by more than 400 Specials. Together they look at where they can make the most difference to improving the quality of resident’s lives, and creating a safer Hertfordshire.
The Constabulary polices an area of 632 square miles, with a population of well over a million. The mix of villages and towns, with some of the busiest roads in Europe, place a variety of demands on the police. The county’s landscape is also diverse ranging from the urban borders of London to beautiful National Trust areas.
Hertfordshire County Council
The County Council a responsible for a wide range of services such as children’s services and schools, health and community services including safeguarding, looking after the environment, highways and waste, supporting health and wellbeing, fire and rescue services, advising local businesses, and providing library services and archives. The Hertfordshire Safeguarding Adults Board (HSAB) makes sure the council, health service and police work together to protect and promote the welfare of adults at risk in Hertfordshire. The five agencies that make up the Board work together to prevent abuse and neglect and stop it quickly when it happens. It is easy to report concerns about anyone you may feel is at risk, the telephone line is operated 24 hours a day seven days a week – 0300 123 4042 – and all information is treated confidentially. You can also visit our website www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/stopabuse.