About the UKHTC
The United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre [UKHTC] is a multi-agency centre that provides a central point for the development of expertise and cooperation in relation to the trafficking of human beings [THB], working together with other stakeholders from the governmental, non-governmental and inter governmental sectors in the UK and abroad.
It plays a key role in co-ordinating work across these various stakeholders and, with its partners, delivers a diverse set of programmes, including targeted campaigns to prevent and reduce THB. Raising the awareness of THB is the primary message and the Centre does this by addressing the four key audiences; victims; the public; law enforcement and other professionals. The Centre has responsibility for a number of important actions which are set out in the UK Action Plan on Tackling Human Trafficking. The Centre conducts research, develops improved training packages, promulgates best practice and develops an improved knowledge and understanding of the way criminal enterprises that are associated with human trafficking operate.
The Centre promotes the development of a victim centred human rights approach to THB and by working with Non-Governmental Organisations and other partners it aims to improve the standard of care offered to victims. The Centre recognises that it is imperative that all victims of THB are identified and the provision of victim identification guidance to all sectors is an ongoing priority. A necessity is to reduce the harm caused by THB and to develop solutions to combat THB. The centre aims to prevent human trafficking by working with all partners to build a knowledge and understanding of THB and the harm it causes and to use this knowledge and understanding to inform the UK response.
The UK Action Plan established a detailed programme of work with the goal of making the UK a hostile environment for all types of THB. The Action Plan tasks the public, private and voluntary sectors to work together in a coordinated and directed manner to combat THB. The Action Plan identifies four key areas for action these being; Prevention; Investigation, law enforcement and prosecution; The provision of protection and assistance to adult victims and the provision of specific measures to victims of child trafficking.
The Centre has prioritised these key areas and strives to establish and deliver a coordinated, cooperative and collaborative way of working within the UK and internationally to maximise efforts to reduce THB and the harms it causes. Through the delivery of diverse workstreams the UKHTC will raise awareness of these issues, and ensure that the UK is a lead nation in respect of good practice and policy implementation.
The focus of the work of the Centre encompasses the following;
There are three key areas of preventative work identified within the UK Action Plan on Tackling Human Trafficking. These are increasing our knowledge and understanding of the problem, working to identify and address the issues that impact on the supply and demand sides of human trafficking, and finally maximising the collective preventative effort.
The Centre contributes to work in all these areas, through its multi agency work groups;
Operations and Intelligence
The UKHTC is the central point for the collation of data information and intelligence on all forms of trafficking, thereby striving to improve the local, national and international knowledge base on human trafficking.
Human trafficking is a crime that demeans the value of human life and is a form of modern day slavery, [UK Action Plan on Tackling Human Trafficking - Chapter 2].
The Centre provides a central point for the development of law enforcement expertise in relation to all forms of trafficking. It is a key part of an ongoing commitment to excellence in delivering a strategic partnership and collaborative working between all UK law enforcement agencies including CPS, HMRC, SOCA and the UK Borders Agency.
The trafficking of Human Beings is a violation of Human Rights and the support and protection for victims must be considered within this context.
The Centre continues to pursue the continuing development of a victim centred human rights based approach. Through the UKHTC multi agency 'Victim Care' group, victim centred protection measures continue to be developed. The Centre also works with partners in developing guidance on minimum standards for 'support services' for victims of trafficking and to identify options for producing and disseminating information to victims.
The focused approach of the UKHTC is that of partnership, partnership with governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental agencies. This approach is fundamental to the successful combating of THB. It is important that key partners when identified nationally and internationally are actively involved in the identification of good practice, thereby contributing to the United Kingdoms holistic approach to tackling trafficking in human beings. Simplistically without effective partnership working, it is impossible to successfully prevent, prosecute and protect.
Although the UKHTC has only been in existence since October 2006, it has developed a positive reputation, within this specialist area of law enforcement, driving forward business, with victim care at the centre of its approach. It has expanded its workforce from its creation with two staff members to a dedicated staff of 41, supported by a plethora of associate public, private and voluntary partners.
The UKHTC's activity is focused around five core work streams which are supported by focused work groups, membership being from Governmental, law enforcement and Non Governmental Organisations. These work streams are:
Those people who are victims of trafficking may be reluctant to contact law enforcement agencies perhaps through fear or fear for the safety of their friends and family.
Through awareness raising in the UK and abroad the UKHTC has worked to enable victims to be confident in coming forward to the authorities for assistance. At the same time, the UKHTC has been able to provide rescued victims with support through Non Government Organisations (NGO's) to enable reflection, recovery and safety delivering voluntary repatriation and reintegration programmes where required as well as protection according to the individuals needs in the UK.
The UKHTC has undertaken prevention and awareness raising campaigns in Romania and Bulgaria in 2007. These comprised of television and radio campaigns as well as posters aimed specifically at those who might travel to the UK and be a target for traffickers and the establishment of information lines.
With its key partners, the UKHTC has produced a prevention strategy document aimed at taking the lead in a new generation of targeted prevention work that is contemporary and flexible in order to better combat the methods and techniques currently used by traffickers. This work has fed into media campaigns, which will accompany anti trafficking enforcement operations in the UK.
The UKHTC has supported the development of strategies, action plans, programmes and guidance which provide development and support for partner agencies. Existing work can also be used as the basis to develop bespoke or commissioned research and education strategies.
Work is currently being developed in conjunction with several research/educational establishments throughout the UK, EU and internationally, which not only provides ongoing development but forges excellent communication and partnership working which, will ultimately lead to a better understanding of this issue.
Human trafficking is a complex subject that often suffers from stereo-typing and a lack of understanding. The extensive education programme that the UKHTC is developing aims to raise awareness and understanding, showing that it's not just young women who are victims but children and grown men too.
Human trafficking is not only about sexual exploitation. People are stripped of their basic human rights and forced to work in places against their will with many being restricted in their movements, often beaten to ensure compliance and this alone discourages any attempts at escape.
Central to effectively tackling the issue of human trafficking is understanding the problem and ensuring that operational law enforcement activity is making use of the best practice available. The Operations and Intelligence working group is a multi-agency forum that continually seeks to identify good practice.