It is being announced today (Friday 11th December 2009) that the London Metropolitan Police is to close its Human Trafficking Team on 1st April 2010. This specialist unit of committed police officers has been running for three years and has been responsible for many high-profile and successful anti-trafficking operations. They have prosecuted traffickers, protected victims, and worked to prevent human trafficking. They have also been proactive in cooperating with STOP THE TRAFFIK in raising public awareness and enhancing the flow of community information.
Given the experience and expertise of this team, the continued plight of vulnerable victims, and the upcoming 2012 London Olympic Games, such a move by the Metropolitan Police would seem to contradict claims that the UK is a hostile environment for human traffickers, and that this issue is core to police business. In 2008 STOP THE TRAFFIK and others successfully lobbied the Home Office to extend its funding of the team for another year. It seems bailing out the banking industry has now taken precedence over rescuing victims of the modern-day slave trade.