Moving Forward: Tackling Modern Slavery Collaboratively

In part four of her series on human security and human trafficking, Youth Ambassador Konstantia Tsiaousi uses a case study through Shiva Foundation’s work to explore a human security approach to trafficking in practice.

1 August 2017

In order to address complex issues as modern slavery and human trafficking, we know a collaborative approach is necessary. As discussed previously, a Human Security approach involves exactly that and calls for a unified response:

“From a practical perspective, a human security approach aims to address complex situations of insecurity through collaborative, responsive and sustainable measures. [A human security approach] can be applied through a well-known three phased program; analysis and planning, implementation and finally impact assessment.”

Shiva Foundation, through its anti-trafficking programmes, is taking cooperative and systemic approach to effectively combatting modern slavery today. By acting as facilitator and backbone in a number of collaborative projects, Shiva Foundation offers an example of the human security approach in practice.

What is the problem?

It is estimated that 45.8m people are living in some form of modern slavery in 167 countries today while there are more than 1.1 million victims of human trafficking across Europe annually with over 93,000 sex slaves and 4,500 labor slaves being exploited in hotels. Described by Prime Minister Theresa May as “the great human rights issue of our time”, modern slavery must be confronted in an effective way to stamp it out, and it must be done through collective work and collaboration.

During the past year in the UK the threat of serious and organised crime, which modern slavery can be considered, has intensified. In fact it is highly likely that the actual scale of modern slavery based on victim and offender numbers as well as incidence rates, has increased year-on-year. Additionally, we will soon have to consider the potential impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (‘Brexit’) on efforts to tackle modern slavery. The UK Government has stated its commitment to maintain a collaborative relationship with Europe regarding security and justice, however potential problems like jeopardising the progress made domestically tackling modern slavery in terms of prevention and protection of victims, still exist.

How do we approach it?

Shiva Foundation believes that a collaborative response is needed in order to prevent and eliminate this crime. By bringing together key stakeholders, responsible businesses and following a more systemic approach, change can be made. There are two specific Shiva projects which exemplify this approach.

The first is the Stop Slavery Hotel Industry Network (SSHIN), which was formulated by Shiva Foundation to bring together representatives from across the hotel industry to combat human trafficking and modern slavery within the sector. The Network recently launched its resource hub which brings together anti-trafficking practice for the benefit of the hotel industry and will provide access to a range of relevant anti-trafficking materials and resources.

The second example, and the one that I will talk about in more detail here, is the Hertfordshire Modern Slavery Steering Group. Made up of over 15 agencies, departments and organisations in the area of Hertfordshire, the Steering Group has stated its commitment to work together to tackle modern slavery in the region.

The Steering Group was born out of a conference in March 2017, which highlighted the need for a joined up approach to tackling modern slavery in the area. Initially, it was established that there was a need for such an approach, and once the Steering Group formed, the first step was to analyse how best its efforts could be directed. Being proactive and prepared before we see a problem, is of great importance. There is an alarming lack of support for modern slavery victims in the UK. There are many cases in which victims of modern slavery do not get the support they need after they exited exploitation while reports have shown that front-line DWP staff are often not aware of modern slavery and training on how to spot signs of slavery. In addition, those who are responsible for identifying and reporting victims do not always know how to deal with the people they encounter sensitively. From this initial analysis, the Steering Group formed its action plan. Being able to respond immediately to a modern slavery incident is what the Steering group aims to do; action plans for criminal investigation and victim support are going to be formulated as part of this goal. Developing pathways with external stakeholders such as hotels, landlords and estate agents is going to improve the intelligence collection system and contribute to that action plan.

In terms of the implementation phase of this approach, a great deal has already been achieved. Operation Tropic, the area’s dedicated police unit, provides a great example with how it has formulated an effective response to human trafficking by sharing intelligence and raising public awareness on the subject in the region. It is important to keep in mind that awareness is key in order to spot any signs of modern slavery to then take action towards tackling it. Operation Tropic has already trained 1500 people in the area working in areas that have been identified as more likely to encounter victims. The awareness raising is to inform learners about modern slavery, the signs and how to report an incident. It is also to improve intelligence collection and cross-agency communication. Another issue that became apparent in the initial analysis is that in many cases, victims of human trafficking do not realise they are in a situation of modern slavery because they are not aware of their employment rights in the UK. To increase knowledge of potential victims of trafficking (PVOTs), the Steering Group will be running a targeted campaign directed at vulnerable groups with the intent of informing them of their employment rights in the UK. The campaign will be in relevant languages for PVOTs and will be coupled by general public awareness raising.

Over the course of the next year, the Steering Group has committed to evaluating its success based on the achievement of its intended actions, but also by monitoring impact on the issue itself.

What next?

It is vital we continue to test this method through partnerships in order to make sure that any kind of modern slavery today is going to be prevented and tackled effectively. In order to do so, a uniform approach needs to be followed and the Human Security framework is one that could be quite useful. Collaboration is key, and Human Security encourages it.


Looking for help?

If you are looking for help, want to report a suspicion or are seeking advice,
call the Modern Slavery Helpline on

08000 121 700

If its an emergency and you believe someone is in imminent danger, call