Kevin Hyland OBE, UK Independent Anti Slavery Commissioner, Human Trafficking Foundation Forum, 15 June 2015

Good afternoon and thank you to Tatiana and the Foundation for inviting me to speak to you today.

As the UK’s first Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner I have been afforded a great responsibility and duty.

My independence will be unwavering, whether that be toward law enforcement, government, the private sector or indeed any organisation.

My key immediate aims as Commissioner are to increase the numbers of victims of modern slavery that are identified and referred for appropriate support and in tandem to increase the numbers of prosecutions and convictions for the traffickers and slave masters.

And an important focus will also be to improve efforts to prevent these crimes from ever occuring in the first place – in the UK, but also crucially in source countries.

I am in the process of developing my strategic plan, which will be laid before Parliament later this year, and which will set out how I propose to exercise my functions.

The key priorities that I will set out in the plan will be clear and concise:

Firstly, improved care for victims.

Morally this is of course vital.

And evidence from across the globe also makes clear that without effective support for victims it is very difficult to increase the numbers of prosecutions, as victims must be made to feel safe and confident enough to come forward and give their accounts.

I will be working to understand and establish best practice in the provision of care for victims of modern slavery.

The Human Trafficking Foundation is today of course launching an updated version of their Trafficking Care Standards.

The handbook is an excellent tool for frontline practitioners and I commend the many organisations involved in its development.

I was pleased to be able to give it my full endorsement.

I believe that it is vital that high quality care is consistently provided throughout the UK by all organisations directly supporting survivors of modern slavery.

The framework and guiding principles laid out in the document provide a clear navigation of the pathways that can be followed to ensure that every survivor across the UK receives the high quality care that they need.

I am committed to working with the Foundation to ensure that the guiding principles and recommendations are consistently implemented and adopted across the country.

We will also work together to explore how this information can be most effectively included in training materials for statutory agencies, including law enforcement.

I will also of course be taking a keen interest in the reform of the National Referral Mechanism and I will be monitoring the implementation and evaluation of the new pilots.

I am pleased that there is now an enabling power to place the NRM on a statutory footing.

I very much agree with the conclusion of the Joint Committee on the draft Modern Slavery Bill, which stated that putting the NRM on a statutory basis will be important in ensuring greater consistency in its operation, decision-making and provision of support services.

Another key focus for me with regards to victim care will be in ensuring that the reformed process provides support that is much more focused on long-term healing, resilience and reintegration into society.

Secondly – effective training and victim identification

It is absolutely crucial that frontline workers must know how to spot the signs and just as importantly what to do next.

We cannot get away with shrugging our shoulders that this is “too hidden a crime”.

My immediate focus will be on law enforcement.

My office will be mapping and evaluating training that is currently provided to law enforcement across the country.

We will then support the development and delivery of high quality training across the UK.

I will also be promoting awareness amongst relevant statutory agencies and educational bodies.

Thirdly – partnership working

As you all know, combating modern slavery requires the expertise, resources and efforts of many different individuals and entities.

This is something I am very clear on.

In particular, close partnership working between statutory agencies, including law enforcement, and non-government organisations are crucial.

I will be working to understand and promote best practice in partnership working from across the country, and again, I look forward to collaborating with the Human Trafficking Foundation on this.

I will also be developing new partnership arrangements in particular with faith groups and also embassies in the UK.

These two groups will be essential partners in uncovering what we believe to be numerous instances of modern slavery currently going unreported, to further bring this crime out of the shadows.

I also plan to develop prevention initiatives with homelessness charities, where we know many vulnerable people are targeted for exploitation.

Number four – Private sector engagement and collaboration

I am engaging with a number of trade bodies to identify and promote best practice in ethical supply chain practices and supply chain transparency.

I am also working on a number of initiatives with the financial sector to develop work to tackle the often unwitting facilitation of modern slavery by the legitimate economy. I of course strongly welcome the supply chain provision in the Modern Slavery Act and I believe that it is a key area for the UK to demonstrate global leadership.

Priority five is to encourage effective and targeted international collaboration
The Modern Slavery Strategy commits the Government to stepping up its international response to modern slavery.

Priority partnership countries are being identified.

This will include countries from which significant numbers of victims are trafficked to the UK –

and additional countries that suffer disproportionately from a high incidence of modern slavery and where we the UK has appropriate assets.

The UK Government will prioritise activity to tackle modern slavery in these countries by working with foreign governments and civil society organisations.

British Embassies and High Commissions will develop Modern Slavery Priority Country Plans, working with host country governments and other locally based partners.

I will both support the development of these plans and work to ensure effective implementation.

Over the next year I will in particular focus on the top five countries of origin of victims according to the last NCA Strategic Assessment and the annual NRM statistics.

That means Romania, Poland, Nigeria, Albania and Vietnam.

I will be working with my office to undertake research and analysis into how we improve our collaboration with these countries, with a focus on prevention and law enforcement cooperation.

I conducted a very positive visit to Romania earlier this month and came away with a number of concrete actions.

I also visited Edo State in Nigeria in May.

Despite the scale and volume of human trafficking originating from Nigeria, a significant proportion of it is a highly localised phenomenon.

As many of you will know, victims who are trafficked to Europe disproportionately originate from the state of Edo in the south-central part of the country.

The population of Edo State is about 3.2 million, which represents less than 2% of Nigeria’s total population of 174 million.

The UNODC and Nigeria’s anti-trafficking agency together state that over 90% of victims rescued from human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation who are discovered outside of Nigeria are from Edo State.

The trafficking of women to Europe is now a well-known phenomenon in Edo State, and following the establishment of networks, infrastructure, and expectations, migration flows have increased.

I travelled to Edo because I wanted to see the situation on the ground for myself, and to talk to experts, officials, NGOs and potential partners on the ground.

I have come away with a number of ideas about how the UK can help to tackle this unique and very sad phenomenon, including in terms of awareness raising in vulnerable rural areas that are now being targeted by traffickers, the provision of alternatives and economic development, and law enforcement capacity building.

I look forward to working closely with Offer and his Modern Slavery Unit team, as well as the FCO and DFID, to understand how these suggestions might be most effectively implemented.

Another key priority for me is to push for a significant increase in bi-lateral and multi lateral Joint Investigation Team operations.

I had the opportunity to lead on many of these operations in my previous role as head of the London Metropolitan Police’s Human Trafficking Unit. They are absolutely vital when dealing with organised groups that operate across national borders.

I want to encourage all forces in the UK, where it is apparent that the modern slavery crime is transnational, to immediately think about applying for JIT funding.

I met recently with the President of Eurojust and she would very much welcome this.

I am also pushing to ensure that modern slavery is given adequate focus in the post-2015 UN development agenda.

The Sustainable Development Goals are a proposed universal set of Goals, Targets and Indicators that United Nations member states will be expected to use to frame their agendas and policies towards international development over the next 15 years.

The Goals will build on the progress achieved through the Millennium Development Goals, which will expire at the end of this year.

A draft proposal of 17 Goals and 169 Targets was published in 2014, which, whilst mentioning the trafficking of women and girls and the issue of forced labour, in my view needs strengthening.

Pope Francis will open a summit at the UN in September where the Goals and Targets will be agreed.

The Pope has of course made the fight against modern slavery one of the priorities of his pontificate and I have been working with the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences at the Vatican to work up some small amendments to the current drafting, at least in the textual sense, which I believe would make a major difference to the anti-slavery movement.

We are told there is still likely to be time for small drafting improvements and the support of the UK Government is key.

Ensuring action to end slavery is prioritised in the Goals is actually one of the commitments in the Modern Slavery Strategy and I know that Offer has been working over the past few days with his senior colleagues to see how this can be most effectively progressed.

The Goals and Targets will directly inform international development funding and priorities until 2030, and we will not get another chance to influence this.

And last, but by no means least, I will be evaluating the law enforcement response to modern slavery across the UK

I will introduce a new framework to assess the response of all forces across the UK to modern slavery crime. I want to highlight good practice and effective levels of performance and to provide feedback and advice where the response requires improvement.

I will finish with a statement that I will continue to make wherever I speak, and which will inform the ethos of my office and all of our objectives.

If anyone is a victim of this serious crime, we must all be clear of our priority, that their nationality, background or immigration status must not be a bar to them receiving support and justice.

And I very much look forward to working with groups and individuals present here today, to build the platform and opportunities provided by the new legislation to achieve the aspiration that I know we all share to improve support for survivors, increase the numbers of prosecutions and have a sustained impact in significantly reducing the footprint of this cruel trade in human life, in the UK and beyond.

Thank you.

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