PCC – Human Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation
Human trafficking is the fastest growing form of international crime worth around $32 billion a year. An estimated 35.8 million people are in modern day slavery worldwide. The UK Government estimated in 2014 there could be as many as 10,000 -13,000 men, women and children in modern day slavery in this country each year. Deceived, threatened and abused, trafficked people are forced into prostitution, exploitative labour, domestic servitude and other forms of exploitation, all for the financial gain of those who take advantage of them.
Exploitation within the commercial sex industry affects some of the most vulnerable in our society. With many people first getting involved at a young age, violence, drug dependency and a chaotic lifestyle make it difficult to exit without support. The demand for commercial sexual services also fuels the trafficking of people for sexual exploitation.
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 came into force last year and includes key measures to strengthen and improve action taken against traffickers. It also created the role of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner who is working with PCCs and police forces to help improve their response to modern day slavery. CARE would like to see all PCCs put tackling human trafficking and modern slavery among the key priorities in their strategic plan.
The Policing and Crime Act 2009 made it an offence to pay for sex with someone who is subjected to force, including people who have been trafficked. However, that offence has not been effectively enforced. In the first year after the offence was created 49 people were charged with this offence (and 43 were found guilty). In contrast, just two years later only nine people were charged and in the following two years no charges were recorded.
These figures are shockingly low when compared with the numbers identified as possible victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation in England and Wales each year. In 2014, for example it was over 600!
CARE would like to see greater efforts from police to enforce this offence and other offences focussed on reducing demand and exploitation.