The Trade in Human Beings: Human Trafficking in the UK - Home Affairs Committee Contents

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 240 - 259)



  Q240  David Davies: Mr Kinsella, do you ever feel like Hans, the hero of Haarlem, putting a finger in the dyke: because no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, there are going to be millions of people wanting to come to this country and, sadly, maybe hundreds of thousands willing to exploit them? As soon as you put some away, there are going to be more that are willing to take their place. I ask you two things. Firstly, do you feel the sentences for those few who are caught are long enough? I suspect we will agree on that one. Secondly, whether you do not feel, going back to my previous question, there is a lot more, to mix my metaphors, if you follow the Al Capone example, that we could be doing, and one of the things we could be doing is cracking down on illegal employers, because most of them are exploiting people. Whether or not those people are trafficked is by the by, they are being exploited, and you and I know that 11 companies across the UK prosecuted is disgracefully low, though you probably cannot say so.

  Detective Chief Superintendent Kinsella: I think on your first point on sentencing, generally very good sentences are handed down by the court. People regularly raise the relatively low number of convictions for trafficking, but actually that reflects the Al Capone approach.

  Q241  Chairman: It is a very, very low figure, is it not? We cannot just pass over it, as David says.

  Detective Chief Superintendent Kinsella: If I give an example, Chairman, there were 134 people charged in Pentameter 1. Thirty-two of those were charged with trafficking, because that is where the evidence led us. However, there were others convicted of rape. Operation Glover, an operation I mentioned earlier on, trafficking of UK national children within the UK for sexual exploitation, started in our centre as a trafficking investigation but the conviction was for rape because that is where the evidence led us.

  Q242  David Davies: I am happy to allow you to just come back on this point about the HMRC: because whilst you have said that there are close links, it does not really appear that way. Maybe the figures have gone from 11 to 70; it is still horrendously low, is it not?

  Chief Constable Maxwell: There are two things for me. Just answering your first question, if we save one victim, it is worth it, because we remove somebody from an horrendous life. The second issue is, I think there is significantly more work to be done by agencies working jointly together. Some of the issues we are looking at with the new established immigration crime teams is to try and put HMRC in there and start to actually get into where it hurts criminals, and it hurts criminals when we remove their money from them, and that is the Al Capone issue. If we cannot get them one way, we will get them another, and it does require us to have more than 11 illegal employees convicted.

  Q243  David Davies: I think you could pick any major street in London (and I know this because I married into an East European family) and you will find people working illegally there and to some extent exploited. Whether it is 11 or 70 or 80, it is an horrendously low figure. If the HMRC police went in and investigated those businesses, surely you would find a lot more evidence of trafficking out there?

  Chief Constable Maxwell: I think that is one of the things we want to try out with the pilots. We are looking at the East Midlands to pilot with their immigration crime team, putting HMRC in there, and we have found some money from within the budget that we have got to actually pay for a full-time investigator, which we hope will happen in the next couple of months.

  Detective Chief Superintendent Kinsella: Can I also mention that they are doing particular work through an adult entertainments programme, the Criminal Taxes Unit. There is a lot of work going on that perhaps is not seen publicly. For example, they are embedding a member of staff within the centre in the very near future, and it is part of the G6 initiative, going back to the Chairman's point about source, transit and destination countries, that HMRC within that programme of work are trying to build up a network of revenue investigators across national boundaries.

  Chairman: I think what frustrates the committee in this inquiry is the fact that we have got all these fancy names for these initiatives—Pentameter 1, 2, et cetera—but prosecutions are very low. We are told that this is the second largest problem facing the globe after drugs and we do not seem to be able to find the people responsible. That is what is frustrating this committee.

  Q244  Tom Brake: Could I ask you whether you feel perhaps that too much emphasis has been put on the sex trafficking side of things? Are you now having to branch out into the areas you have just talked about in terms of labour, domestic service and benefit fraud, and, if that is the case—you mentioned the pilot there—are there other ways in which you tackle the prevention and detection of that type of crime that are different to sex trafficking?

  Chief Constable Maxwell: How I feel is as if we are on a journey. As I said earlier on, if you went back four or five years and talked to a police officer in the street, he would not know about trafficking. He would think that modern day slavery was something that happened elsewhere, not in the UK. By concentrating on sexual exploitation, we have seen people who are very clearly victims. These are people who have been deceived, forced into the sex trade, victims of multiple rape. I think that this very quickly got into the public psyche and the public have determined that sexual exploitation does take place. On that journey we have to shift our emphasis and actually start to say that labour exploitation and domestic servitude exist and start to raise awareness, and part of that raising awareness is through the Blue Blindfold campaign, trying to get into the neighbourhood teams, raising awareness with the police officers. As we get the confidence of the community where you are used to seeing your local PCSO, your local special constable, your local PC, you start to determine what the changes are taking place within the neighbourhood and we can start to identify those issues. It is getting the confidence to challenge people for instance who are working in fields and ask difficult questions. It is about multi-agency working—so working with the Gang Masters Licensing Authority the DWP, HMRC and the police—and I think the five pilots that we have got operating will be the genesis of that because we will start to scope that problem out. What we are seeing is that we are starting to get victims who are victims of labour exploitation, and some of those will emerge, I think, when we have gone through Pentameter 2 and have done some of the analysis around that. We have got a number of inquiries that are ongoing at the minute which are showing that we have got people who are being exploited for the purposes of labour.

  Q245  Tom Brake: Can I ask you what you would expect my local beat officer on the Safer Neighbourhood Team to be doing to try and spot sex trafficking, labour, or benefit fraud, or the types of thing that you are trying to deal with? What are they supposed to do?

  Chief Constable Maxwell: One of the issues around that is to understand the neighbourhood where they are, try and look at people who are coming and going in neighbourhoods, and some of this is about whether you live in a transient neighbourhood or whether you live in a very stable neighbourhood, look at the people who are there, listen to what the public have got to say, and there are things, particularly around sexual exploitation that you may see. A brothel may be operating where a lot of men are going into one house. There are other issues where there are a lot of people living in one house, where a minibus turns up and in that minibus you have got 12 or 15 people who are taken off at 7.00 a.m. in the morning and do not return until 9.00 p.m. at night. So there are some clues that we are trying to look for and it is trying to raise awareness that this thing is happening and how you combat that.

  Q246  Tom Brake: Can I ask you about your contact with the Gang Masters Licensing Authority? Do you have an on-going working relationship with them?

  Detective Chief Superintendent Kinsella: Yes, a constant relationship with GLA. Our contact is their Director of Operations, who we meet regularly. To go back to the first point of your question about how we deal with it differently to sexual exploitation, that is one of the ways we deal with it separately. We work with different partners in forced labour campaigns. For example, in three of the force areas the GLA are the first responders with the police. We also deliver the training differently. For example, in the training that we have done in these pilots there has been NGO involvement in the delivery of that, anti-slavery have been involved with that and ILO. The course was developed by the UKHTC, but it had been discussed with the ILO and others, and, of course, there are other issues that we do not know all the answers to yet, and that is the different needs of victims of forced labour—they will be different to the needs of the victim who has been sexually exploited—and we will work with NGOs and others and build up on the expertise that is already within the centre. There is a good centre of expertise there.

  Q247  Tom Brake: One final question. With the points based system, and particularly the issue of unskilled labour, are you and the Gang Masters Licensing Authority preparing plans for what could be an upsurge of illegal, unskilled labour being trafficked into the country?

  Chief Constable Maxwell: At the minute we do not anticipate that. What we need to do is keep an eye on where things are.

  Q248  Tom Brake: Why do you not anticipate that?

  Chief Constable Maxwell: Because what we need to look at is what are the entrance routes into the country. They have been strengthened quite considerably from where they were two or three years ago. We need to work with UKBA colleagues and we need to make sure of the intelligence picture. As we get more rescues, as we find people in different situations, we are using them as the examples to get over to police officers and front-line staff that this is happening in their neighbourhoods. To pick up one of the previous things you said, it is a lot easier to explain sexual exploitation where a person is truly deceived than when someone who comes to the country and actually thinks that receiving two pounds an hour they are a lot better off than in their own country, but that is exploitation as far as the UK is concerned.

  Detective Chief Superintendent Kinsella: There is an example where we are taking proactive action where we have seen a threat emerging. When Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU, funded by the Home Office and in co-operation with the IOM (International Organisation of Migration) and the FCO, we ran an awareness-raising campaign for all forms of trafficking—children, adults, sex and labour—in both those countries and, together with the IOM, established an advice line in both countries.

  Q249  Chairman: How many people telephoned it?

  Detective Chief Superintendent Kinsella: I do not have those figures to hand, but I can try and find out for you.

  Chairman: That would be very helpful.

  Q250  Bob Russell: As a result of this inquiry and the visit we made to Moscow and Kiev, I am more and more convinced that quite a lot of the advertisements that we see in the backs of some of our local newspapers indicate that some of the ladies, but not all, may well be victims of sex trafficking. What are the police doing to check those ones out, because to my mind those local newspapers are not only aiding and abetting prostitution but they are aiding and abetting people trafficking?

  Chief Constable Maxwell: Two things. It is one of the tactics that are used, it is one of the ways that we try and determine where we have got brothels and then launch an operation to find out whether there is a trafficked person within them. I agree with you actually. One of the stances that ACPO have taken to try and raise awareness with editors is to look at personal ads and see if they can really think that is the right thing they want for their paper.

  Q251  Bob Russell: Would you wish this committee to make a recommendation?

  Chief Constable Maxwell: What I would like is if we could give some strong advice that this is unacceptable behaviour in terms that it can lead to, and assist with, criminality.

  Q252  Bob Russell: That leads me to the main question. We have heard about the guidance you give to neighbourhood policing about trafficking, but does that guidance include advice on whether the trafficked victim could be an illegal immigrant from the European Union? Is there separate advice there, because the person could be trafficked even though they are here legally?

  Detective Chief Superintendent Kinsella: Absolutely, and that is the key point that we put out, it is one of the points we consistently raise in numerous audiences, why we deal with this as serious crime rather than as an immigration issue: because if the victim is an EU national, which includes UK nationals, there is no immigration matter, they are just a victim of serious crime. We are very aware of that and we raise that consistently.

  Q253  Bob Russell: Lastly on trafficking, I am sure you have noticed that there are many hand car wash enterprises which have set up, some of them at quite reputable national firms, it would appear, in car parks. Have you noticed, like I have, that not only is this a cash industry but a large majority, if not all of them, are not English speaking. Is this something that perhaps your colleague in the Inland Revenue might wish to address: not only the possibility of trafficked people using it but the strong possibility, I suspect, that the operators are not complying fully with the rules and regulations?

  Detective Chief Superintendent Kinsella: I think we look at a number of industries across the board.

  Q254  Bob Russell: I can nominate three sites if you want to use those as a trial run.

  Detective Chief Superintendent Kinsella: I would always welcome that information, but we do try to be intelligence-led and I think we go back to what is the distinction from our perspective in the trafficking centre between illegal working and forced labour. I cannot speak for HMRC, but I know they are very proactive in that field.

  Q255  Martin Salter: I wanted to come back to the point that my colleague, Bob Russell, was raising in terms of the willingness or otherwise of local newspapers to carry these adverts. Do you think it would be helpful if we were to seek a memorandum from the Society of Editors just probing whether or not there are any guidelines in place to suggest best practice for local newspapers?

  Chief Constable Maxwell: Indeed, I think the Home Office has started those negotiations. I do think it is a very positive step forward. We need that kind of guidance. I think an MOU or some kind of undertaking from those editors would assist us greatly. It is always of interest to me. On the front page you would have something about: here we have had somebody who is arrested, we have rescued a victim of sexual exploitation and, if you turn the pages back, the advert is there. That cannot be ethically right.

  Martin Salter: Can I suggest that we do request that memorandum as part of our inquiry because we have clearly not got space to have more witnesses.

  Chairman: Indeed, we have asked them to come and give evidence to us. They have declined so far, but we will pursue these letters to make sure that they do come, in view of what you have just said.

  Q256  Mrs Cryer: Can I ask you both further about public awareness. One of UKHTC's functions is to look at public awareness and try to encourage people to understand what they are doing. Apparently you had a Blue Blindfold campaign. Am I right in saying, I seem to remember some sort of poster that said something like, "You arrive as a punter and leave as a rapist", presumably referring to the fact that men sometimes are aware that there is an element of coercion?

  Chief Constable Maxwell: Yes, I think there were two elements to that. We have had a number of different campaigns: some of them related to Pentameter 1, some of them were run by NGOs. Blue Blindfold is just about trying to raise awareness to every single type of trafficking there is. We need to do that within the £1.6 million budget. We have had a number of people who have given their services free in terms of putting together a very professional DVD, but what we are trying to do is to get into places like cinemas, we are trying to get places on buses. They are commercial enterprises. We have a very limited budget in terms of that, and we are trying to spend quite a bit of time to negotiate, "Can you do this for free"—this is the good will part of what we are doing—and that would significantly raise awareness with people about what it is. You made a very clear point that if a man has sex with a trafficked woman, whether he thinks he has paid for it or not, he has raped that woman. We try to get that very clearly across. It is a very difficult case to prove. When you look at the majority of prosecutions that we have had in terms of trafficking, the victim can remember the trafficker but when she has been a victim of multiple rape one of the coping mechanisms is not to remember who you have been forced to have sex with.

  Detective Chief Superintendent Kinsella: Could I add on the prevention point, as Mr Maxwell has said—this is very much a multi-agency approach—our prevention strategy was developed within our prevention sub-group and led for us by Anti-slavery, which again shows the NGO embedded nature of our work. We have four key audiences, and one of the key messages is about identifying your audience and then delivering a very focused message in the best possible way to that audience. So there are four key audiences for us: the general public, of which there are particular sets as well, such as men who purchase sex, and the particular poster you are referring is to the pilot within the Home Office demand review that is linked into Blue Blindfold, because we are branding that as the national prevention strategy. The second key audience are victims themselves. How do we safely get messages to victims? The third key audience are other professions, where we feel by upskilling their knowledge on identifying victims we may more readily identify—so Social Services, Health Service and others—and the fourth, the law enforcement themselves, and at the moment our activity is focused on law enforcement, awareness raising and the general public.

  Chief Constable Maxwell: Indeed, we are just about to produce a new DVD which is trying to raise awareness with school children about the potential of trafficking and the potential to become a victim of internal trafficking.

  Q257  Mrs Cryer: Thank you very much. Can I briefly ask you about how successful you have been in drawing together information in order to assess the scale of trafficking?

  Detective Chief Superintendent Kinsella: In a number of ways. Let me give you an example. As I say, the final results of Pentameter 2 are being analysed and will be released shortly, but there are significant (in the thousands) new intelligence reports around that, all of which will be analysed. In addition, we have got the other campaigns I have already mentioned. In addition to that, clearly, understanding the scope and scale is a key part of our work. We are well advanced on a multi-agency programme of assessment work around the various areas, all of which are linked into the UK threats assessment and knowledge gaps identified by SOCA and its partners, again linking into the programmes of activity. I have already mentioned the intelligence requirements, which are about improving our knowledge, links to the RIU network, the immigration crime teams, the new analysts that are going in post, but also we are linked into various universities for specific pieces of research around the specific areas within the trafficking agenda, and through Mr Maxwell's funding we have just secured funding for a full-time research post which will help to co-ordinate that work across the country to bring forward more knowledge and data. We are also—in fact it is going in today—preparing a bid with the International Organisation for Migration for EU funding about standardised data collection, so that all of us, not just the UK but our main European partners, can collect the right data in a similar format and share it through an agreed process.

  Chief Constable Maxwell: It is a very difficult to thing to estimate. We had a report in 2003 that said there were 4,000 victims. In P1 we looked at 10% of all visible sex outlets and from that we rescued 88 people. The best piece of research I have seen is from the South-West Regional Intelligence Unit, and what I want to do is try and use that methodology to give us a picture across the UK and try and get something which is a fairly firm figure around what we are dealing with, because at the minute I do not think we have got a real handle on what the figures are.

  Q258  Mrs Cryer: What did they do that was different?

  Chief Constable Maxwell: They looked at each of the areas where there had been identified brothels, where there were off-street brothels. They used this as the basis of a multiplier across the population they have got, they used it across the geographic area. Again, it was a multiplier, but it was based on hard figures; so they have used the hard figures on the number of rescues, multiplied that across, using a bit of professional knowledge to give an indication. In the end we will get a guesstimate, but it is a firmer guesstimate, about what it is than what we have got at present.

  Q259  Martin Salter: Like many people representing urban constituencies, I deal with a lot of immigration casework. I have come across people who have been trafficked and come to members of Parliament for help. I have never yet come across a trafficker. They tend not to make themselves known to you. Can you give the committee a pen-picture of the characteristics of the gangs involved in trafficking? What I am particularly interested in trying to get at is are they total criminals and could be just as easily trafficking guns and drugs as they could be people?

  Chief Constable Maxwell: It is extremely difficult to give you a profile of a trafficker because they are as different as criminals are different from one another. What we found during Pentameter 1 was that there were different types of networks. There were networks which were very, very organised, and you can actually see from the country of origin the transit route which was controlled by the gang into the UK and the UK outlets controlled by the gang. There were other gangs which only controlled certain aspects of the route. They would take you to from A to B and hand you on to somebody else from B to C onwards. Some people were sole traders. They would actually go out to places like an African village, find a child, bring the child in and then exploit the child—any nationality. We certainly found that in P1. There were UK nationals; there were foreign nationals. We have got examples where women had been traded to settle bets from playing a game of cards and people who were just as equally trading people as they would drugs, as they would guns. It was purely about how much profit they could make.

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