Gwent Police Team to Tackle Human Trafficking
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Jeff Cuthbert, has welcomed the creation of a dedicated Human Trafficking team by Gwent Police.
The five-strong team will comprise a permanent Detective Sergeant, Detective Constable, and Police Constable, supported by a researcher and an analyst.
Their roles will involve building a detailed picture of Human Trafficking issues across the Gwent Police service area, to raise awareness and provide training to Police colleagues, and build deeper relationships with partner agencies.
The move comes as Gwent Police seeks to combat what is a growing issue.
According to the most recent figures from the National Crime Agency, there was a 75% increase in the number of potential victims of trafficking reported in Wales between 2014 and 2016.
Human Trafficking is a complex crime which usually involves three key steps.
The first is the recruitment, transportation and receipt of victims.
The second is the process through which the victim becomes ‘caught’ or beholden to the criminal - which can occur through a variety of means such as coercion or deception.
The final step is for victims to be exploited to the benefit of the criminal through a number of means which could involve sexual exploitation or forced labor.
Julian Williams, Gwent Police, Chief Constable all-Wales lead on Human Trafficking said, "Human trafficking and modern slavery are, quite simply, crimes which should not be taking place in the 21st century. It is still a relatively uncommon offence in Wales, but its prevalence is growing. It is also a very complex offence category, often with an international dimension. We need to increase vigilance in all our communities and as a Police service we need to be able to respond.”
The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Gwent, Jeff Cuthbert, represents all four of the PCC’s in Wales on the Welsh Government Leadership Group that focusses on ways to tackle Modern Slavery and human trafficking.
Emphasising the importance of the new Human Trafficking Team, Mr Cuthbert, said: “The exploitation of the most vulnerable people in our communities by brutal traffickers should not be accepted. This is why tackling human trafficking and modern slavery is an area that my office and Gwent Police are determined to drive forward with our partners locally and nationally.
The launch of this new team consolidates our commitment and determination to lead the way in this area by providing a firm foundation for preventing these crimes occurring across our communities in the first place.
Mr Cuthbert added: “We realise that no single organisation can effectively tackle and eradicate this problem alone. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to ensure that people are not exploited. Only through effective collaboration with partners across all sectors can we come up with solutions to stamp out human trafficking and modern-day slavery.”
Tackling the problem is made more complex by barriers to disclosure, whereby victims are either unaware of available support or too fearful to report their concerns. This may be due to their isolation, citizenship status or ‘self-blame’ for their predicament.
Stephen Chapman, Welsh Government coordinator for Anti-slavery said, “I welcome Gwent Police’s introduction of a dedicated team to tackle this growing crime category. By increasing resources and collaboration, we are better equipped to confront the traffickers and also to encourage potential victims to come forward.”
If you have been the victim of human trafficking or modern day slavery, please contact Gwent Police on 101. Information can also be passed to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.