Hampshire and Isle of Wight Modern Slavery Partnership (MSP) have set out its new strategy for tackling modern slavery, following figures revealing that the identification of possible victims has risen following coronavirus concerns.
The identification of victims of modern slavery were at an all-time high last year, with 10,000 potential sufferers of trafficking, slavery, and forced labour being identified. There was also an increase to almost 200 potential cases referred to Hampshire Constabulary in 2019.
Commenting on the figures, Enzo Riglia, Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner – Criminal Justice, said:
Modern day slavery within the UK remains a significant threat and the number of victims being identified continues to increase year on year – both in the UK and in the Hampshire policing area. As a Partnership it is vital that we continue to play our part in supporting these highly vulnerable people and fight to bring those accountable for their suffering to justice.
The new strategy outlines how to pursue perpetrators and support victims. To do so, it seeks to increase:
- the number of successful prosecutions for modern slavery
- identification and enhanced support for victims
- reporting of modern slavery from professionals and the public.
- understanding amongst professionals of their responsibilities
- information sharing and resource coordination
Regarding the new strategy, Riglia said:
The strategy covers the next three years, but immediate concerns have been raised by partners, in particular in relation to the safety of sex workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Police and Crime Commissioner, Michael Lane, has already awarded a small grant to Amber Chaplains for vital supplies for their outreach work, to help keep them and the women they support safe. A further grant has been awarded to Medaille Trust for their work supporting victims of slavery.
Modern Slavery is also one of the themes within Michael’s Response Fund that he has set up to enable those services working to protect victims, support those vulnerable to crime, and to stop the cycle of offending, to apply for emergency funding to address issues they are facing as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MSP for Hampshire and Isle of Wight has been put in place to reflect its own learnings, as well as including the Government’s Modern Slavery Strategy, the new priorities of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, and the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan. The MSP is chaired and facilitated by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) and Hampshire Constabulary, with over 70 members from both national and local organisations including councils, charities, churches, enforcement agencies, and health services.
If you have seen or are experiencing modern slavery, you can contact the confidential modern slavery helpline on 0800 012 1700 or you can find more information on the dedicated page.
Additionally, more information on the Covid-19 Response Fund can be found here.