Hestia responds to final HMICFRS report on Police Super-Complaint on modern slavery

Three years ago, Hestia submitted the first ever Police Super-Complaint on modern slavery, highlighting widespread failings in how police forces across the UK respond to and support victims of modern slavery.

Read Hestia's Super-Complaint on modern slavery

Today, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services’ (HMICFRS) final report shows that woefully little action has been taken to address these real and pressing concerns. Latest figures from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) show that last year only 335 cases of modern slavery were prosecuted, a rise of only 13 cases over two years. This is despite the number of victims being referred in 2020 rising to more than 10,000.

This is mirrored in our experience supporting over 2,000 victims of modern slavery each year, who continue to tell us the same stories. People like Maria who over the last few months has been asked to provide details of her exploitation in multiple interviews, carried out by many officers, asking repeated questions that have re-traumatised Maria. Since then she has received no follow up and has been left feeling forgotten and like she has been taken advantage of. She has told us that she regrets agreeing to be a witness.

This case is not in isolation. Police will only be able to bring to justice the criminal gangs who trade on human lives if they can build trust with the traumatised and vulnerable victims who are their key witnesses. Pockets of good practice exist amongst many police forces, but it must not be a postcode lottery for victims. We need urgent action from all police forces, and for that response to be properly scrutinised as part of ongoing inspections. Otherwise this heinous crime will continue to be rife in the UK.