On Anti-Slavery Day, the Department of Justice has asked people to be vigilant about the existence of modern slavery and human trafficking in Northern Ireland.
The UK Modern Slavery Annual Report 2018 released today, shows that there has been a significant rise in the number of recorded offences across the UK. Northern Ireland is no exception and police have rescued 36 potential victims of trafficking during the 2017/18 year.
Anthony Harbinson, Director of Safer Communities said: “Anti-Slavery Day reminds us that Modern Slavery is an extremely high harm crime and the physical and physiological impact on victims can be life-long. Unfortunately, it is one of the fastest growing crime types in the UK. The PSNI’s dedicated Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Unit works tirelessly to bring perpetrators to justice and I welcome the first convictions, in February of this year, under the NI human trafficking legislation.
I continue to be encouraged by the commitment of our partner organisations in Northern Ireland – both statutory and voluntary – who work together with determination to make Northern Ireland a hostile place for offenders and to support victims in their recovery. By its nature, though, this is a hidden crime. To build a safe community where we respect the law and each other, we all need to play our part. It is vital that everyone remains vigilant and reports any suspicions to the police or the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700.”
Julie Wilson, Head of Organised Crime Branch and Human Trafficking Team, said: “Anti-Slavery Day is an opportunity to highlight that this heinous crime is happening in Northern Ireland. Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking encompass a wide range of offences. Victims can be exploited sexually or in labour situations, as adults or as children, in full view or hidden away. Our response needs to be equally comprehensive and the Department has recently consulted on a draft annual Modern Slavery Strategy. Awareness is key to tackling this crime and, in the draft strategy, we have committed to increasing engagement with relevant sectors – raising awareness of risk and promoting good practice. As part of its strategic commitment, the Department of Justice also plans to develop and agree a multi-agency Modern Slavery Training Plan for Northern Ireland and to roll awareness training out to front-line professionals across the region.”
Notes to editors:
1. Anti-Slavery Day is an annual event when EU countries are asked to raise awareness of modern slavery.
2. More facts and figures on MSHT in NI can be found in the OCTF Annual Report and Threat Assessment 2017/18.
*3. The UK Modern Slavery Annual Report provides an overview of modern slavery in the UK and explains how the UK has responded to this threat over the last 12 months. It is published as part of the Home Secretary’s national rapporteur role for the purposes of the EU Directive on human trafficking and covers the UK’s collective activities to respond to human trafficking. The 2018 UK annual report on modern slavery is available on the Home Office Website
4. The convictions on 28 February 2018, at Belfast Crown Court, were the first convictions under the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 and were also the first human trafficking convictions in NI where the victims did not have to provide any evidence as part of the investigation. Sentencing took place following guilty pleas for Conspiracy to Human Trafficking in relation to five victims for sexual exploitation, Controlling Prostitution for Gain of six victims and Acquiring and Converting Criminal Property totalling over £165,000.
5. For all media queries, please contact the DOJ Press Office on 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 028 9037 8110 and your call will be returned.