Humber Modern Slavery Partnership
Ongoing project

Humber Modern Slavery Partnership

Project summary

The Challenge

The Modern Slavery Act was introduced in 2015 to improve responses to the increasing problem of slavery and trafficking in the UK and abroad.

The Approach

The partnership was formed in the same year to generate a coordinated, efficient, and proactive response to Modern Slavery across Humberside.

The Outcome

Anti-slavery forums are established in each local authority area that feed into a collaborative Humber-wide strategic anti-slavery plan.

Funded by

Project partners

The Challenge

Modern Slavery is an umbrella term for activities involved when one person obtains or holds another person in compelled service. There were 16,938 potential victims of modern slavery referred to the Home Office in 2022, representing a 33% increase compared to the preceding year (12,706) and the highest annual number since the NRM began in 2009.

The true number of people trapped in Modern Slavery is estimated to be much higher with a report by Centre for Social Justice placing the estimated figure in the UK at 100,000. In Humberside, 228 referrals were made for adults and children between April 2022 and March 2023. This number stood at just 5 referrals in 2015 when the Humber partnership was first formed.

Modern Slavery in the UK can take many forms including sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, criminal exploitation, domestic servitude, and organ harvesting. Forced labour is the most commonly identified form of Modern Slavery in the UK, fuelled by a drive for cheap products and services, with little regard for the people behind them. Criminal exploitation is a growing form of Modern Slavery. In the UK, British children are commonly forced into ‘county lines’ drug trafficking and Vietnamese nationals are trafficked to work in cannabis production.

The latest National Referral Mechanism end-of-year stats highlight the increase in referrals to the Single Competent Authority and the proliferation of crimes such as the criminal exploitation of young people for forced criminality. In 2022, 52% of referrals were for potential victims who claimed exploitation as adults, whilst 43% claimed exploitation as children. In 2022, 2,281 County Lines referrals were flagged, accounting for 13% of all referrals received in the year. The majority (75%; 1,710) of these referrals were for male children.

The Approach

In Humberside, our partnership approach has ensured the appointment of a Coordinator position for the Humber Modern Slavery Partnership. The post is based at the Wilberforce Institute and funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Humberside. The Operation Wilberforce taskforce within Humberside Police was established at the same time as the partnership to tackle Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking offences within the Humber area. This dedicated team provide specialist training, support, and guidance to colleagues to help them understand this complex issue in more detail. They also take the lead in investigating and responding to any allegations of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking. 

The development of the first Humber anti-slavery strategy and associated action plan was undertaken by the coordinator at the Wilberforce Institute in consultation with partner organisations across Humberside throughout Spring/Summer 2020. This consultation assisted with the formation of the strategy and helped to determine the future governance and structure of the Humber Modern Slavery Partnership. Contributors to the consultation included a cross-section of strategic and operational partners across all four local authorities in Humberside. The consultation allowed for the development of key themes and areas of action to determine what has been working well in Humberside since 2015, the challenges we have faced and feedback on how we can make our partnership approach to Modern Slavery consistent and sustainable.

The initial three-year strategy (2020-2023) set out Humberside’s approach to tackling Modern Slavery and how this could be achieved with an effective partnership-led focus. The strategy built on existing frameworks such as the Police and Crime Plan for Humberside as well as the 4Ps approach (Prevent, Protect, Prepare, Pursue) which is the recognised framework to counter Modern Slavery and Serious Organised Crime in the UK.

Criminal exploitation

Strategic priorities for 2023-2026

1. Leadership

To develop well-planned and consistent approach to local-level strategy implementation and planning across all four local authority areas in the Humber region including regular engagement with full council and regular scrutiny.

2. Resources and Capacity

To continue building our exceptional multi-agency approach to all aspects of modern slavery by ensuring all partners have access to and can benefit from the latest training, data, intelligence, and involvement with local authority forums.

3. Identifying and Supporting Adults

To develop an effective and consistent response to adults who are at risk of or affected by modern slavery in the Humber region. This response will be collaborative and reflect the highest standards of a trauma-informed approach.

4. Identifying and Supporting Children

To develop an effective and consistent response to children and young people who are at risk of or affected by modern slavery. Drawing on devolved decision-making powers and including the voice of the child this response will ensure the National Referral Mechanism equally benefits all children across the Humber region.

5. Disruption, Prevention, and Enforcement

To ensure partners and the wider public are properly equipped to work collaboratively to identify and address the structures and conditions that create environments in which modern slavery can occur in and around the Humber region.

Please view the Humber Modern Slavery Partnership Strategy 2023-2026

The Impact

Since its inception in 2015, the Humber Modern Slavery Partnership has made significant progress towards making the Humber region a hostile environment for organised crime gangs looking to exploit people through modern slavery.

 Whilst there is still much work to do across all agencies, we now have a solid foundation upon which to build a successful and sustainable working partnership across all four local authority areas in which we consistently support victims and bring the perpetrators of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking to justice.

This includes:

  • Joint local authority housing protocol. This protocol is the first of its kind in the UK and makes provision for the safe accommodation of a potential adult victim prior to entering the Salvation Army Victim Care Contract.
  • Tactical subgroups that focus on specific workstreams such as training, types of exploitation or service delivery.
  • A formalised three-year strategic plan and annual delivery plan. The strategic plan is formulated in partnership with each local authority forum and is written to complement national policy as well as the police and crime plan for Humberside, the LGA maturity matrix, and local authority CSP priorities.
  • A significant year-on-year increase in the number of referrals made into the NRM in Humberside.
  • The creation of an extensive modern slavery champions network across the Humber region. This is a network of frontline professionals who act as a link between each local authority anti-slavery forum and the teams or organisations they represent.
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