Since 2008, the UK has developed the Multi Agency Reception Centre model for dealing with multiple victims of trafficking in human beings (THB). Through bringing together all partner agencies, with their areas of expertise, it allows all aspects for the immediate care of victims to be addressed. The model supports a victim-centred approach.
Case: possible victims from Slovakia
An Organised Criminal Group (OCG) recruited vulnerable adults in Slovakia by promising well-paid work and arranging their travel to the UK. There it housed them in houses with no hot water, no heating and dirty conditions. They were found work, often through legitimate recruitment agencies. But their wages were paid into accounts that the OCG had control of, and the workers were given very little money. In addition, the OCG claimed state benefits in the workers’ name, which again the workers had no control over.
Intelligence sharing protocols were established between UK and Slovakian authorities, via Europol. In April 2015 there was a coordinated enforcement phase of the operation involving four UK police forces. The control centre was in one of the force areas and housed representatives from the Slovakian police and the Europol mobile office, which allowed dynamic checks to be made both against Slovakian police and civil records and Europol databases.
From addresses visited, a total of 29 possible victims were recovered and taken to two multi-agency Reception Centres set up for this case to provide help and support for them, while trying to obtain evidence against the OCG members.
Partners involved in the cooperation
Agencies at the Reception Centre included:
- Police: Managed the Reception Centre and interviewed victims
- National Crime Agency: Provided specialist victim interviewers and National Referral Mechanism advisor
- Local Authority: Provided suitable premises and assisted in its management
- National Health Service: Medical screening of possible victims and providing evidence of physical/medical condition
- British Red Cross: Provide food, bedding and general humanitarian support to possible victims, helping build trust and confidence
- The Salvation Army: Assessing possible victims wishing to enter the NRM in order to identify suitable accommodation and ongoing support.
What makes this practice successful?
Since 2008, the Multi Agency Reception Centre model for dealing with multiple victims has continuously been developed. Through bringing together all partner agencies, with their areas of expertise, it allows all aspects for the immediate care of victims to be addressed.
Each agency can be relied upon to utilise the resources available to it and to prevent any delay in providing support. The model ensures a smooth transition for the victim from their exploited position to the care of those who can assist them. It enables the victim to receive that support in a safe and controlled environment and immediately allows a relationship to be developed with the support providers. This supports a victim-centred approach.