The Met Police have been accused of a heavy handed approach to brothel raids and for failing to find trafficked victims, in a report, Silence on Violence, published by a London Assembly member.
The report was also published in the Guardian which you can read here.
The report criticises the police for failing to find less than 1% of victims despite an injection of £500,000 to help the predicted rise in trafficking in the run up to the Olympics. The Met has subsequently admitted that they have failed to find a rise in trafficking.
Reports like these are extremely important to assists our understanding of this most hideous crime, however it is always important to remember that human trafficking is one of the most hidden crimes and the most difficult to prosecute.
Over the years I have read numerous reports which suggest the problem of prosecuting is not that it is an unusual crime but that the victims are too often afraid to come forward for fear of repercussions.
When the perpetrators are found, to the frustration of prosecutors they are often prosecuted with different crimes than that of trafficking because the victims won’t give evidence. Besides its not straight forward, the type of crime this is means that many other crimes are bound up within it drugs, violence, etc.
The report criticises Both local police officers and the Met’s specialist SCD9 unit, which focuses on human exploitation and organised crime for failing to adopt an intelligence-based approach to trafficking and for looking in the wrong place to find victims.
One of the most significant concerns and this is something which I have been told elsewhere is the particular concern of girls and women trafficked from West Africa, thought to be the largest group of victims. The police or the specialist units failed, the report claims, to find them. They are rarely found in brothels and are more likely to be exploited in closed communities.
The report revealed that The Poppy Project, which works with victims of trafficking, had told them that women from West Africa are the largest group they work with. Of 197 Nigerian women they have worked with since 2003 just nine were referred to them by the police.
This is a subject close to my heart, and I am concerned that we are not yet in a situation where we are even hitting the tip of the iceberg despite resources and specialist units being deployed.
Charities such as the Poppy Project do the very best work they can with limited resource, but they are only able to act when victims are brought to them.
The Police must work with other agencies to develop greater intelligence in this area to really tackle the closed world of trafficking and exploitation, and help these victims.