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Policing Modern Slavery Unit reports highest ever number of modern slavery investigations

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Figures released just before Anti-Slavery Day on 18 October

As part of this year’s Anti-Slavery Day the police Modern Slavery and Organised Immigration Crime Unit can report that investigations into modern slavery-related offences are at their highest ever level.

After reducing slightly in April 2020, as lock-down took effect, the number of live investigations being conducted by police forces and other law enforcement agencies across the UK has increased to 2,163 in September 2020. 

The figures are reported by police forces in England, Wales Scotland and Northern Ireland and collated by the Modern Slavery Organised Immigration Crime Unit (MSOICU) which is funded by the Home Office and based in Devon & Cornwall Police. The number includes all current investigations which focus directly on modern slavery offences or those crimes where it is suspected, or intelligence suggests, modern slavery plays a significant part. The figures reported include ongoing investigations – which can appear in the figures for more than one month – but are not included in the ongoing reporting once completed. 

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for modern slavery and organised immigration crime, said: “Modern slavery and trafficking are cruel crimes that see perpetrators target some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Perpetrators range from international and national serious and organised crime networks through to single individual exploitative relationships. This is arguably the most pernicious crime type of our generation.

“The increase in police investigations, combined with other law enforcement partners within the NCA, Immigration Enforcement and Border Force, shows that law enforcement, supported by our partners within local government, health, wider public service and the essential work of the voluntary sector, is identifying, safeguarding and supporting victims who are vulnerable to being exploited. Together, alongside the independent Crown Prosecution Service, we are being relentless in our pursuit of perpetrators, in order to bring them to justice and ensure the UK is a hostile environment for traffickers.”

The Home Office funded MSOICU - formerly the Modern Slavery Police Transformation Programme - works across partners and national agencies as a key strategic partner to share examples of best practice and deliver high quality training to police officers and staff and partners working with police forces across England and Wales.

Chief Constable Sawyer continued: “Home Office data indicates that over 10,000 men, women and children were identified as being trapped in modern slavery across the UK in 2019 alone. These victims of trafficking are subject to coercion and control and are engaged without choice in risky behaviour, including being forced into prostitution or committing crimes for others’ gain.”

Live Modern Slavery Investigations (UK)

October 2019

1,739

November 2019

1,810

December 2019

1,821

January 2020

1,811

February 2020

1,810

March 2020

1,828

April 2020

1,763

May 2020

1,640

June 2020

1,845

July 2020

2,044

August 2020

2,026

September 2020

2,163


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