Dedicated Unit To Stop Human Trafficking In West Yorkshire

The issue has been identified as a problem here, so work is being done to prevent it.

A new dedicated Human Trafficking Unit (HTU) has been created to work both locally and nationally to target organised crime lords seeking to traffic people into West Yorkshire.

It has been formed as part of a range of initiatives underway in West Yorkshire to combat trafficking which has been identified as a key issue.

The new HTU will be led by a dedicated detective inspector and staffed by specialist detectives and investigators who have all received training in investigating human trafficking related offending.

It is believed to be only the third of its kind in the country and has been set up as part of West Yorkshire's Serious and Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) and will use the full range of tactics and techniques used by SOCU to investigate the most complex criminal cases.

Work by the detectives will be complemented by the start-up of a West Yorkshire Anti Trafficking Network (WYATN) with charity Hope For Justice which will train almost 3,500 police staff, as well as staff from partner agencies about how to spot the signs of trafficking and tackle it.

Detective Chief Inspector Warren Stevenson, of West Yorkshire Police, said the formation of a trafficking prevention unit showed how seriously authorities took the issue.

He said: “Human trafficking is a vile crime, and the resources we are dedicating to this new unit makes clear how determined we are to tackle it and bring those responsible to justice.

“Last year the number of human trafficking victims referred by West Yorkshire Police to the national referral mechanism doubled from 2013 from 42 to 84, showing the scale of the problem, but also demonstrating that victims are more willing to come to us.

“We have been working closely with Hope For Justice to support these victims and also secure evidence against those abusing them."

The DCI said the new unit was intended to complement the work already ongoing within West Yorkshire Police to tackle trafficking, but to provide extra support for complex cases.

He added: “What this new team will do is give us extra capability to investigate the larger organised crime gangs bringing trafficking victims into our region, and to provide extra support to divisions managing human slavery investigations locally.

“By managing these cases through our Serious and Organised Crime Unit we can ensure all the resources we bring to bear to investigate the most complex conspiracies can be used to target traffickers operating at a national and international level.”


More from Local