The UK has witnessed year-on-year increases in the number of identified victims of modern day slavery. This does not necessarily mean this crime is increasing, but it is more likely to reflect advances in our response to this crime through identifying victims and recognising exploitation more readily. One contributing factor in the most recent rise could be attributed to the development and introduction of the Modern Slavery Bill (2015) which recognises human slavery as a crime in itself.
It is widely acknowledged that the increased ability to identify victims has necessitated the careful consideration of the support and service needs of these victims. In response to this the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has piloted the role of ‘Independent Trauma Advisors’ (ITAs) to work with this group of victims to facilitate their access to services with a view to both ensuring their safety and enhancing their long-term well-being. The HMICFRS report released in October 2017, Stolen Freedom: The police response to modern slavery and human trafficking, encouraged police forces to give greater consideration to the vulnerability of victims, to recognise their victim-status and to adopt a more proactive approach towards these crimes.
The Thames Valley ITA pilot project was initially seed-funded by Thames Valley’s PCC. Based on encouraging findings and a positive response to the trial from partner agencies, the Thames Valley PCC placed a successful bid to the Police Innovation Fund which provided Home Office match funding for further development and evaluation of the model from early April 2015 to end March 2017. The evaluation was undertaken by Dr Nadia Wager and Angel Wager from the University of Bedfordshire (now at University of Huddersfield).
The summary provides an overview of five reports produced by the researchers. The first report provided an overview of existing literature on forms of Modern Slavery, which was a relatively new offence when this project began. The next two empirical reports were undertaken to develop estimates of the extent of the problem of Modern Slavery in Thames Valley and to determine a methodology and estimate of the cost-benefits of the emerging Thames Valley model using case studies from the early phase of the ITA pilots. Finally, key learning and recommendations from the interim and final reports, which have been redacted due to the sensitive material they contain, are presented. To conclude, the summary outlines next steps for the Thames Valley PCC are outlined. The reports can be found below.
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