Modern Slavery Bill

Written evidence submitted by Adam Simmonds, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire (MS 34)

Summary of submission

I believe that there is a substantial role for Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to play in supporting the Governments ambition to eradicate Modern Slavery in the United Kingdom that is not currently reflected in the drafting of the Bill in its current format.

I believe that PCCs are uniquely placed to listen and act on the needs of local people in their communities. They can provide the vital links between policing, the criminal justice system and the public, which is vital to securing successful prosecutions against those guilty of committing offences such as those set out in Part One of the Bill.

Whilst it is widely considered that Modern Day Slavery is a national and international issue, the Committee and Government would do well to further consider where Slavery is occurring. It occurs in our communities, in our streets and in our neighbourhoods and it would truly shock many UK residents if they knew the scale on which this was occurring.

PCCs will play a vital role in educating and involving our community in identifying the potential signs of Modern Day Slavery, in developing not only the local Police Force and local criminal justice systems response to the issue, but also our communities’ response, in order to help and assist the victims’ recovery in society.

PCCs are also well positioned to provide effective support services to victims and witnesses of crime, which has the potential to be expanded further to provide support to victims of Modern Day Slavery as set out in Part 4 of the Bill.

In some locations (such as Northamptonshire) PCCs have taken the decision that victim support services will be completely independent of them, the police and local authorities, following the Governments recent decision to devolve the commissioning of victims’ services.

If the appropriate funding was made available to my victims and witness service, Voice, I believe that they would be able to arrange for specialist child trafficking advocates, (in relation to Clause 41), to be available to support and represent children who there is reason to believe may be the victims of trafficking. I believe that as a result the Committee and the Government should consider what opportunities the locally devolved commissioning of victims services could present to tackling the issue of Modern Day Slavery.

PCCs and in particular my new victims and witness service could also play a vitally important role in ensuring that special measures in relation to Clause 40 of the Bill are applied for in court. I Chair my Local Criminal Justice Board and I can ensure that local Courts, the CPS and other agencies are taking into account the special measures that Victims of Modern Slavery need. The new victims and witness service will ensure that victims are kept well informed of their options throughout the criminal justice process and represent them accordingly by arranging for special measures to be put in place.

I welcome the Governments approach in defining the main issues relating to Modern Day Slavery and consolidating the Offences contained within Part 1 of the Bill. I also welcome the new prevention and restriction orders as set out in Part 2 of the Bill, that give Police Forces and others the powers needed to prevent slavery from occurring in their localities, but believe the Bill could be strengthened further by ensuring that those agencies have access to the relevant training to identify potential victims and perpetrators of Modern Day Slavery.

Turning to consider Part 3 of the Bill, I have reservations about the need for the role of an Anti-Slavery Commmissioner as drafted in its current format. I believe that most of these functions could be easily picked up by the Victims Commissioner nationally, unless there is international prominence for the role.


1. Part 1 Offences

1.1 I welcome the Governments ongoing commitment to tackling all forms of Modern Day Slavery including those as defined by the Human Trafficking Foundation which focuses particularly on Child Trafficking, Domestic Servitude, Sex Trafficking and Trafficking for Forced Labour, all of which are well reflected in the provisions set out in Part 1 of this Bill.

1.2 These crimes often leave their victims terrified to come forward and report their experiences and it is right that the Government are taking action to not only encourage them to come forward and report their victimisation but offer them immunity from prosecution for any crimes that they may have been forced to commit during the course of their victimisation.

1.3 I believe the campaign to end Modern Day Slavery is an issue that all Police Forces and PCCs in England and Wales need to, and can, assist the Government with. I would encourage members of the Committee to give due consideration to putting the involvement of PCCs on a statutory footing, by making them responsible for raising awareness amongst their communities, sharing best practice in their Force’s approach, increasing the detection of Modern Day Slavery and ensuring their local Criminal Justice System is both efficient and effective in pursuing prosecutions against perpetrators of modern day slavery and for providing an effective service for victims of modern day slavery.

1.4 I believe that it is such an important issue that in Northamptonshire, I have recently refreshed my Police and Crime Plan in order to commit both myself and the Chief Constable to working closely with organisations such as the Human Trafficking Foundation, Hope for Justice and others to put this issue at the very heart of making Northamptonshire a more secure county as part of our journey to be the Safest Place in England.

1.5 The Committee and the Government could consider giving additional powers to PCCs which enable them to establish local anti-slavery networks, consisting of the relevant people in their local area, with responsibility for identifying and prosecuting perpetrators of modern day slavery and for providing support services to those that have been victims of such crimes.

2. Part 2- Prevention Orders

2.1 I am also pleased to see that the Government has taken such a proactive approach to preventing Modern Day Slavery from occurring. Giving the Courts the power to impose Slavery, Trafficking and Prevention Orders (STPOs) will be an important part of preventing people becoming victims of slavery from those who have displayed signs of being potential perpetrators.

2.2 I do believe, however, that we will need to pay close attention to these orders when the Bill becomes an Act of Parliament to ensure they are being used effectively. STPOs can be applied for by an Immigration Officer, Director General of the National Crime Agency and Chief Constables. There is therefore a role for both the Home Secretary and Police and Crime Commissioners to ensure that these are being used and used effectively by the NCA and Immigration Officers (Home Secretary) and Chief Constables (PCCs).

2.3 Slavery Trafficking Risk Orders (STROs) also have the potential to be very effective in the fight against Modern Day Slavery, particularly in ensuring that those who have been convicted of these crimes in the past in ensuring they do not simply pick up where they left off when they come out of prison. It is vital that Police Forces, the National Crime Agency and others have the powers that they need to disrupt this sort of criminal activity from happening in the first place.

2.4 By identifying previous perpetrators and preventing them from becoming involved in particular types of businesses, preventing them from visiting certain locations, working with children or travelling to a specified country, the Government have closed loopholes that traffickers have previously used to exploit. We know that Trafficking only occurs when our protection systems are weak and the Government should be investing heavily in child protection in particular if we are to prevent the most vulnerable in our society from falling into Modern Day Slavery.

2.5 The Government should therefore include a duty within this Bill to ensure that agencies across policing, criminal justice and immigration are working together to combat Modern Slavery. At a local level Police and Crime Commissioners could be involved in bringing together local agencies and ensuring there are appropriate provisions in place to prosecute offenders and support victims.

2.6 This will involve agencies such as the Police, Courts, Prisons, Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs), National Probation Service, Immigration and Border Control services and local and national victim and witness support services. They will need to be not only well co-ordinated in their approaches to enforcing both STROs and STPOs, but well trained to recognise the signs of those who are guilty of Modern Day Slavery Offences and have the ability to identify those who are victims and respond appropriately.

2.7 The Bill could be strengthened by ensuring that frontline staffs in the organisations mentioned above have the relevant training to detect all forms of Modern Day Slavery. It is all very well equipping Police Officers, Immigration Officers, Border Control Officials and the National Crime Agency employees with the relevant powers to prevent Modern Day Slavery, but unless they know specifically what signs they are looking for, or when they have potentially detected victims or perpetrators of Modern Day Slavery they will not know how to respond accordingly. The Committee and the Government should consider placing on a statutory footing an obligation of Chief Constables, PCCs, Immigration and Border Control Officials and other relevant agencies to ensure that their staff receive specialist training to identify victims and perpetrators of modern slavery.

3. Part 3- The Anti-Slavery Commissioner

3.1 I have some reservations of the Governments intentions to introduce another Whitehall Tsar with responsibility for combatting Modern Day Slavery. Whilst I welcome the Governments ambition to put this agenda right at the heart of Government, I am concerned that the role has some crossover with that of the Victims Commissioner and PCCs, in championing the needs of victims.

3.2 An alternative that the Committee and Government might like to consider is providing additional resources to the already established office of Victims Commissioner. The Committee and the Government might like to consider creating a new post such as an Assistant Commissioner with responsibility for combating Modern Day Slavery. This would add profile and prominence to the issue by establishing a new post, whilst utilising the experiences within the already well-established Office of the Victims Commissioner. This would mean that the Assistant Commissioner would have the ability to prioritise Modern Day Slavery, produce reports, share best practice and set the strategic direction of the Government’s response to Modern Day Slavery, all of the measures that this Bill makes provision for, without the need to develop another office in Whitehall that is removed and remote from the issues on the ground.

3.3 I am aware that a number of concerns have been raised by Members of the House of Commons at both the Second Reading and Committee Stage of the Bill about the narrow focus of the role of the Anti-Slavery Commissioner, the decision to recruit to the post before the Bill has passed through Parliament and the level of independence the Commissioner has and I would add my voice to those concerns.

3.4 I believe that if the Government are going to pursue the role of Anti-Slavery Commissioner then they need to ensure that the role has the ability to take on international responsibilities, to help the international community develop its response, particularly within supply chains, and represent the UK in much the same way that the Anti-Slavery Commissioner in Finland does, if the Government is truly going to lead the way in developing a world class Act of Parliament. If it is the Governments intention to retain this function at a Ministerial level, then I see little point in establishing an Anti-Slavery Commissioner, when the role could be picked up by a new post of Assistant Commissioner, with responsibility for Modern Day Slavery that is located within the Office of the National Victims Commissioner to share best practice and set the strategic direction in the UK.

3.5 The bulk of the money, which would have been used to establish the Anti-Slavery Commissioner, could then be devolved to local Commissioners (PCCs) for the provision of localised Victims Services to those unfortunate enough to have been caught up in Modern Day Slavery and raising awareness of the issue amongst our communities and or given to Police Forces, the NCA and Immigration and Border Control Officials to cater for training needs and enforcement action on the ground.

4. Part 4- Protection of Victims

4.1 The bulk of the money, which would have been used to establish the Anti-Slavery Commissioner, could then be devolved to local Commissioners (PCCs) for them to use appropriately to focus on combating Modern Day Slavery in their localities. It would be then up to PCCs to decide how best to spend that money to tackling the issue of Modern Day Slavery with a number of options available to them.

4.2 Firstly, with PCCs having just taken responsibility for the provision of localised victims services for the first time, they would be well placed to extend specialist service provision to victims of Modern Day Slavery and act as powerful advocates on their behalf throughout their journey through the Criminal Justice System.

4.3 In Northamptonshire, the new victims and witness service, Voice, I have launched in October is completely independent of both the Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner. It provides a single umbrella organisation that coordinates and provides a range of support and information services. This incorporates the existing services of the witness care unit, linking to the nationally commissioned witness service in courts and the victim liaison services provided by probation and CPS and is also responsible for the provision of training to frontline practitioners.

4.4 Secondly, PCCs are well placed to raise awareness of Modern Slavery within their communities. Whilst being the voice of the public to the Police, their standing and engagement within their local communities means that they are able to get the public to increase their reporting of the issue by allowing them to recognise the signs that might indicate that someone is either a victim or a perpetrator of modern slavery by better educating, consulting and involving their communities in the big issues facing policing in their localities- of which Modern Slavery is an issue which undoubtedly requires much greater community involvement in identifying and detecting.

4.5 Thirdly, PCCs can ensure that Modern Slavery becomes a local priority through local Police and Crime Plans. PCCs can ensure that Chief Officers are developing frontline officers training and understanding of Modern Slavery, getting them to understand the position of victims and spot the signs of Modern Day Slavery early on.

4.6 Finally, In terms of spreading best practice, PCCs are well placed to share information and best practice amongst one another through the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and feed in at a national level directly to both the Home Office and Victims’ Commissioner.

October 2014

Prepared 15th October 2014