Joint working between agencies and the right kind of training will help tackle modern day slavery, according to West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
Mark Burns-Williamson also wants money recovered from traffickers under the Proceeds of Crime Act to be pumped back into local agencies that deal with fighting the gangs and keeping former slaves out of the hands of their previous masters.
He said: “It is really difficult work but we need to make sure the right support is available.”
He said the police and other organisations fighting modern-day slavery needed to work with other countries and foreign embassies.
But he emphasised that people would be wrong to assume trafficking is a problem that only affects people from other countries.
“There are a range of areas we focus on across the UK and across international borders but we should not lose sight of the fact that does happen within the UK, we should not automatically think it is just people from abroad.”
Earlier this year a dedicated Human Trafficking Unit was established, which will work locally and nationally, with training from anti-slavery charity Hope for Justice.
And last week Mr Burn-Williamson met the UK’s first anti-slavery commissioner, Kevin Hyland.
Mr Burns-Williamson said: “West Yorkshire Police and partners are leading the way in tackling human trafficking and bringing the vile perpetrators of this crime to justice and it was great to be able to show and discuss with Mr Hyland the work and progress we have been making.
“I told him about my plans to set up a National Trafficking Network amongst PCCs to help share best working practices and increase awareness.
“I informed him about West Yorkshire’s anti-trafficking network and the new dedicated unit which will both spread awareness of human trafficking and lay the groundwork for coordinated efforts to address the issue.
“West Yorkshire has already seen a number of operations relating to human trafficking literally resulting in the rescue of many vulnerable victims, but this activity is potentially just the tip of the iceberg. I discussed with Mr Hyland how essential quality training is for officers and front line staff to make sure that victims are recognised and supported wherever possible.”
Mr Hyland said: “It is clear West Yorkshire Police has determined the investigation of this serious and organised crime is a priority and the partnership model in West Yorkshire is one I am looking into in my search to identify best practice.
“I particularly welcome the focus on transparency in supply chains at today’s meeting. Society and businesses must do more to ensure supply chains are not generating profit from the suffering of modern slaves.”