Ford welcomes enhanced UK helpline to tackle modern slavery

10 December 2015

Justice Minister David Ford has welcomed the announcement that an enhanced UK modern slavery helpline is to be launched in 2016. 

Responding to the Home Secretary’s announcement David Ford said: “This is a positive step forward in the fight against traffickers and slavery masters. These are truly horrific crimes that dehumanise people. I am pleased that victims in Northern Ireland and across the whole of the UK stand to benefit from the enhanced helpline.

The new helpline has been developed by the UK Government in partnership with the US-based NGO Polaris and with an £1million in start-up funding from Google.org. It reinforces the value of partnership working and exemplifies how the public, private and third sectors can work together effectively to not only benefit victims but also to support law enforcement in disrupting perpetrators and bringing them to justice.

The new helpline will be based on an existing United States model, which was developed by Polaris. It consists of a small team of trained operators who are available to answer calls, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in more than 200 languages. Survivors can also ask for help in other ways, including by text message. The hotline operators are able quickly to connect survivors of trafficking to a network of rescue and support services in their locality. The data that is collected as part of these calls is then analysed using cutting-edge software, generating valuable intelligence that can help police to catch and convict criminals.

The intention is that the enhanced UK helpline will emulate many of these features. It is intended that a UK-based NGO will operate the helpline, which will launch next year.

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