'˜Tackling modern slavery requires a whole societal response'

Northern Ireland's Department of Justice has pledged to find new ways to tackle human trafficking.

Thursday, 26th July 2018, 6:45 am

It is seeking views on its new Draft Northern Ireland Modern Slavery Strategy 2018-2019 in a public consultation which will remain open until October 18.

Last year the National Crime Agency (NCA) warned that modern slavery and human trafficking is a “significant problem” in Northern Ireland.

At that stage NCA vulnerabilities director Will Kerr said that 34 victims had been identified and rescued in the previous year, and 13 suspects arrested.

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Speaking to the BBC last August, Mr Kerr warned that modern slavery was now so widespread that people would be coming into contact with victims daily.

Now the department’s Director of Safer Communities, Anthony Harbinson, said it aims to improve how it both pursues perpetrators and protects victims.

“Human trafficking and modern slavery deprives victims of their most basic human rights,” he said.

“Working together we aim to strengthen and improve the ways we pursue the criminals who are exploiting the vulnerable, also how we protect and support victims, and how we can prevent others from falling prey to the criminals who are involved in the vile crimes around modern slavery.

“Tackling modern slavery requires a whole societal response; by taking the time to engage with our public consultation everyone can play a part in tackling it.

“Whether through local government, as a front-line professional, as part of a faith group, as an employer or as a member of society, if you think you can help our work, we would like to hear from you.”

Responses can be made to the consultation by visiting https://www.justice-ni.gov.uk/consultations/draft-modern-slavery-strategy-2018-19 or by phone on 028 9052 3108.