Modern slavery is the recruitment, movement, harbouring or receiving of children, women or men through the use of force, coercion, abuse of vulnerability, deception or other means for the purpose of exploitation. Individuals may be trafficked into, out of or within the UK, and they may be trafficked for a number of reasons including sexual exploitation, forced labour, domestic servitude and organ harvesting.
The Home Office estimates there are 13,000 victims and survivors of modern slavery in the UK; 55% of these are female and 35% of all victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation.
Previously the Department of Health funded a three year research project, PROTECT (Provider Responses, Treatment and Care for Trafficked People), looking at Healthcare and Modern Slavery. PROTECT reported that 86% of NHS professionals lacked the knowledge to identify victims of modern slavery and 71% were not confident to make referrals for victims to receive additional support.
In response to the PROTECT findings, NHS England and a number of other organisations are developing a formal training programme.
The NHS England safeguarding team are working with:
- The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in Wales who are piloting basic training for staff in social care, education, police and health
- The pan-London Safeguarding Adults Board who are developing multi-agency training at safeguarding level 1 (basic awareness level)
- The Helen Bamber Organisation (with Kings College Hospital) to produce a level 2 and 3 training programme for specialist professionals and in line with the intercollegiate guidance on level 2-3 safeguarding training
- Working with the RCN to develop pocket guides for NHS professionals and a modern slavery awareness campaign to target key frontline staff. We also have in place an e-learning programme for staff
- We are also working with the RCGP to refresh their safeguarding toolkits which will include reference to Modern Slavery
One of the resources that we have created to support all NHS staff across the front line and beyond is a video. This resource will support staff to understand the signs and symptoms of Modern Slavery and how to support victims.
Hilary Garratt, Director of Nursing and Deputy Chief Nursing Officer for England has also published a blog which outlines the importance of all staff understanding what modern slavery is and the action we can take.