"Modern slavery or human trafficking has become one of the most lucrative areas for illicit crime activity worth billions of pounds to organised groups. It is estimated that there are over 20 million current victims of human trafficking across the globe, with around 2.5 million people actively being trafficked or smuggled at any one moment. Often the crime is hidden from public view and victims are reluctant to approach the police due to the levels of control and fear placed on them.
"It is a common misconception that modern slavery is an issue for other parts of the world. The reality is that human trafficking victims exist in communities across the UK. In 2012 approximately 2,000 potential victims of human trafficking were encountered in the UK. The victims were mainly trafficked for sexual and labour exploitation and a quarter of these were children. Since 2009 we have seen a 25 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of potential victims identified and current 2013 figures would indicate that this consistent increase is continuing. Our enhanced ability to identify people as potential trafficking victims is largely down to the coordinated activity of all those agencies who work to combat this heinous crime.
"As the ACPO strategic lead for migration and related matters, I have been working with colleagues across the country to ensure that police activity is heightened in the lead up to Anti-Slavery Day on 18th October.
"Earlier this year the police launched Operation Eagle, an ongoing initiative to improve the response to human trafficking and organised immigration crime. The objective of this operation is to raise awareness, increase the amount of information we receive and improve coordination of all forces' operational activities on trafficking to ensure that the UK is a more hostile place for traffickers, facilitators and exploiters to operate. Officers have been identified to take a lead on this issue across all police forces, to improve the police response.
"The police treat reports of human trafficking as serious crimes and allocate resources accordingly."