Every year Medaille Trust hosts an International Criminal Justice Conference bringing together modern slavery case workers, prosecutors and police officers from the UK and overseas.
The conference allows participants to develop effective local and international networks, share best practice on how to support modern slavery victims and discuss strategies to target and bring traffickers to justice.
At the 2022 conference in Slovenia, we heard that there were 900 county line gangs operating in the UK. These gangs use children to sell drugs, exposing them to addiction, attacks from rival gangs and "punishment beatings". In Merseyside, Police rescued 40 adult modern slavery victims from exploitation by an organised crime group. Kent Police visited 30-40 farms in Kent interviewing workers and gathering intelligence. The force uncovered a European trafficking ring selling people for £16,500.
In another appalling case, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority found a British man held in a restaurant store room, sleeping on pallets and working 12 hours a day without pay. The GLAA visited 180 car washes and found 65% of them had employment rights or labour abuse issues. Delegates discussed the short sentences given to criminals after hearing how Wiltshire Police had spent four years bringing down two criminals, only for them to receive sentences of 2 years and 2.5 years. Martin Hill from the Crown Prosecution Service led a conference discussion on how police and the CPS can collaborate earlier to ensure cases are brought to court which have a greater chance of success.
A representative from the National Crime Agency said her agency has a network covering over 100 countries and urged law enforcement agencies to use the NCA more. Conference also heard from Police Officers from Poland, Czech Republic and Sweden and discussed how they were tackling human trafficking in their countries.