Added by Freedom of Information Team on 21 April 2016 at 11:12
1. Budgets/funding or any other resources directly allocated by the Force towards anti-trafficking activities and/or activities to combat ‘modern slavery' in 2014/15 and 2015/16 financial years (i.e. dedicated projects, anti-trafficking operations, members of staff, information campaigns etc.) and what these activities are.
2. If available, a copy of the organisational strategy or any other document which sets out what actions are to be taken by the Force to combat trafficking in human beings and/or ‘modern slavery’ as mandated by the UK Government Human trafficking Strategy (2011), Modern Slavery Act (2015) and Modern slavery strategy (2014)
Q1. There is no specific funding allocated to Modern Slavery other than PCC (Police and Crime Commissioner) funding for the charity, Unseen to support trafficked victims.
With regard to specific resources, we have a Modern Slavery Lead force wide and slavery leads for each policing area of Somerset, Bristol and the North East. We also have Safeguarding Leads trained to make reasonable grounds decisions for trafficked victims.
Training and raising awareness of modern slavery and trafficking is ongoing. It is the responsibility of all police staff and police officers to identify and take action to protect and safeguard individuals and bring offenders to justice. We are also involved with local and regional partnerships addressing Modern Slavery.
Q2. This document is exempt from disclosure by virtue of Section 31(1) – Law Enforcement. Section 31 is a prejudice based, qualified exemption and therefore there is a requirement to evidence the harm in disclosure and conduct a public interest test. Please find this below:
Harm in disclosure
The police service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime, and protecting the communities we serve. Information will not be disclosed where the current or future prevention/detection of crime, the apprehension/prosecution of offenders or the administration of justice may be hindered as a result. To disclose information relating to our strategy in policing this type of crime could identify the constabulary’s capability and tactics used.
Arguments favouring disclosure
There is a public interest in the communities we serve being made aware of the facts relating to this area of policing in order to ensure openness and transparency. Disclosure of this information could go some way to ensuring to the public that we are appropriately prepared and resourced to tackle this type of crime and that public debates surrounding these issues are informed and accurate.
Arguments favouring maintaining exemption
Disclosure of this information relating to human trafficking could disclose sensitive information. Releasing this information could identify where police resources are engaged and could identify our capabilities and tactics used, thus enabling individuals or groups to alter their activities accordingly in order to avoid detection and apprehension therefore hindering our ability to prevent and detect crime.
The police service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities we serve. This is of paramount importance to the police service and information that would hinder this ability will not be disclosed. Whilst there is public interest in openness, transparency and the assurance that we are appropriately and effectively allocating resources, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding tactics and operations in this sensitive area of policing. It is for these reasons outlined above, that the argument is weighed in favour of non-disclosure.
In addition, Avon and Somerset Constabulary can neither confirm nor deny that it holds any other information with regard to an exempt body as the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply by virtue of the following exemption:
Section 23(5) Information Supplied by, or concerning, certain Security Bodies
Section 23 is a class based absolute exemption and there is no requirement to consider the public interest in this case.
Confirming or denying the existence of whether any other information is held would contravene the constrictions laid out within Section 23 of the Freedom of information Act 2000 in that this stipulates a generic bar on disclosure of any information applied by, or concerning, certain Security Bodies.
Date of Request: 17.02.16