PM invites GLA to join new anti-slavery task force
The GLA has welcomed an invitation from Prime Minister Theresa May to join her new top level task force to tackle modern slavery in both the UK and overseas.
One year on from the Modern Slavery Act, the Government is now pioneering a more co-ordinated policy and operational response with the new group which be chaired by the Prime Minister.
The new taskforce aims to do more to bring perpetrators to justice and to support victims both domestically and overseas with the focus on four specific objectives:
1. Bring efforts and resources targeted at modern slavery in line with resources to tackle other forms of organised crime – including by increase investigatory resource, capabilities and intelligence provision.
2. Increase and improve investigations into the perpetrators of modern slavery, through further education of law enforcement officers on the nature of modern slavery offences; the provision of additional tools to support investigations such as greater data and intelligence; and more effective use of joint investigation teams.
3. Improve successful prosecution levels with further education of prosecuting authorities on modern slavery, and improvements to the quality of supporting evidence.
4. Improve international cooperation to tackle modern slavery.
Membership of the taskforce has crucially been designed to help drive forward the operational response with an unusually high number of intelligence and policing experts joining Ministers around the table.
Alongside the Prime Minister and GLA chief executive, Paul Broadbent, will be representatives from the heads of all three intelligence agencies – Mi5, Mi6 and GCHQ – along with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, the head of Europol, the Secretary General of Interpol.
Broadbent (pictured) said, “I am truly honoured to be able to take a seat on such a prestigious task force and look forward to contributing towards tackling this deplorable activity by bringing all the experience gained by the GLA in a decade of fighting against worker exploitation.
A number of senior police officers from across the country will be invited to attend meetings as required. They will be joined by key practitioners in this field such as Caroline Haughey, a barrister with a proven track record of successfully prosecuting slave drivers.
The taskforce is expected to meet for the first time next month.
The Prime Minister is also seeking to galvanise international action to stamp out modern slavery when she brings together leaders, representatives of international organisations and experts in the margins of the UN General Assembly.
Speaking ahead of the meeting in New York, the Prime Minister said, “The UK is leading the world with our efforts to stamp out modern slavery. Just over a year since the Modern Slavery Act came into force, convictions are up, more victims are getting support and there are more police investigations into this abhorrent crime.
“But there is still much more to do. Across the world an estimated 45 million people are enduring experiences that are simply horrifying in their inhumanity. That’s why I am determined to drive forward international action to eradicate modern slavery.
“Just as the criminals cross borders, so we need a radical new approach that crosses borders – sharing intelligence and joining up investigations. This is standard in the case of drugs trafficking and the trade in illegal firearms and there is no excuse for our law enforcement authorities failing to do this when it comes to modern slavery.
“We owe it to the innocent men, women and children who are being tricked into a life of hard labour and abuse to rid our world of this evil. Just as it was Britain that took an historic stand to ban slavery two centuries ago, I am determined that the United Kingdom will once again lead the way in defeating modern slavery and preserving the freedoms and values that have defined our country for generations.”
She argued that just as we have stepped up international co-operation to crackdown on drugs trafficking and other organised crime, so we need a similar co-ordinated effort to eradicate modern slavery. And the PM will urge the group of like-minded countries, priority countries and key practitioners to work together to develop a model national response based upon:
• strong law enforcement action and legislative framework;
• reducing vulnerability and supporting victims;
• tackling transparency in supply chains; and
• effective international cooperation.
It is estimated that there are up to 45 million victims of modern slavery worldwide. A cross jurisdiction crime - just like the trafficking of drugs, it is run by criminal groups that evade prosecution because law enforcement face the obvious challenges brought about by criminals networking across borders either physically or via the internet.
That’s why world leaders are needed to challenge their respective law enforcement to join forces with others and come down hard on the organised crime groups and free victims of modern day slavery. This will require joint investigations, data and intelligence sharing and multilateral prosecutions. Increased co-operation across borders delivers results with long sentences for the perpetrators and freedom with recompense through the seizure of criminal assets for victims.
Alongside the taskforce, the Government has also earmarked £33m from the UK aid budget to tackle modern slavery in high risk countries, where victims are known to be trafficked regularly to the UK.
The Prime Minister will also announce that at least £5m will be spent in Nigeria, working with authorities there to strengthen Nigerian anti-trafficking agencies and reduce vulnerability of those at risk of being trafficked, particularly in areas like Edo state, Nigeria’s key trafficking hub. The United Nations has warned that 80% of Nigerian women who arrived in Italy this year will be trafficked into prostitution.