In November 2008, the announcement that London’s Metropolitan Police’s Human Trafficking team would have its Home Office funding cut from April 2009 represented a major setback to official efforts to fight human trafficking in the UK. The Human Trafficking Team was young, set up as recently as March 2007 and the news of its closure came soon after the team helped secure a major conviction (please see blog post 25 November 2008 ) in which six young men were given heavy sentences in connection to the trafficking of a sixteen year old Lithuanian girl in 2006. With funding slashed (the Team was fully funded by the Home Office Reflex Project) the Human Trafficking Team could not hope to continue its vital work. How could we take seriously the government’s promise to crack down on human trafficking?
Thanks to agitation and pressure from a number of organisations including STOP THE TRAFFIK, the Home Office have agreed to delay the ending of funding until 2010. Meanwhile, they have increased funding for the UK Human Trafficking Centre in Sheffield, which coordinates intelligence nationwide, and are providing funding for further supported accommodation for human trafficking victims.
Many thanks to those who helped bring pressure to bear, and STOP THE TRAFFIK eagerly awaits further news of progress in this area.