The Modern Slavery Act 2015 is a complex piece of legislation. Understanding what is required by educational professionals can help declutter and outline what is needed.
Wednesday 15th August, 2018
West Yorkshire Police report: Detectives in Kirklees have charged 31 people with numerous offences including rape and trafficking with intent to engage in sexual exploitation. The allegations relate to 5 female victims and were committed between 2005 and 2012. The offences took place when the women were between 12 and 18 years old.
Thursday 26th July, 2018
The Home Secretary, Sajid Javid stated “The government attaches the highest priority to tackling child sexual exploitation……” The Home Office expanded “The government has always been clear that child sexual exploitation is not exclusive to any single culture, community, race or religion. Political or cultural sensitivities must not get in the way preventing and covering child abuse.
Tuesday 20th February, 2018 (The Guardian)
National Crime Agency Analysis suggests the number of children believed to have been sexually exploited in Rotherham has been raised to 1510. (The Rotherham scandal first broke in 2013 and the original estimate was 1400 children).
This is not just an inner-city problem!
- There are 95 cities/towns in the UK with a population over 100,000.
- Huddersfield has a population of about 149,000 (60th in the table).
- Rotherham has a population of about 117,000 (79th in the table).
With other investigations taking part throughout the country, educational professionals must take the view that they could come across this regardless of where they work.
Educational professionals must also agree that this is utterly unacceptable and where we can help, we clearly should.
"...my intention is to simplify what we as educational professionals can, and should do, to the best of our abilities to prevent our students being trafficked and sexually exploited."
The Modern Slavery Act, 2015, is a complex piece of legislation, don’t worry about this, a small but very important part relates to what we need to do.
The word trafficking conjures up all sorts of clandestine international smuggling (this can at times, be the case).
Trafficking within the act is simply:
A person commits an offence if they arrange or facilitate the travel of another (in our case our students) with a view to them being exploited.
The person intends to exploit the person being trafficked or knows or ought to know that another person is likely to exploit them during or after the travel.
TRAVEL – this can be by any means of transport including walking. It can be international, but it could be an offender picking up a student at the school gate and walking a few hundred yards within the same city, town or village.
So, what is our responsibility?
Each of us, as an individual, is responsible for notifying the Children and Families Services and the Police, giving the reasons we suspect a student is being trafficked.
This may sound a bit daunting, I fully understand that. Don’t let it be daunting and don’t sweep your feelings under the carpet because it is nerve-wracking; the issue is far too important!
Help is always on hand
When you attend a new school as a teacher or a supply teacher, I would urge you to identify and introduce yourself to the Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO).
They are always on hand to help you through this process and many others within the school. Don’t wait to introduce yourself until you need them, do it as a matter of cause in every school you attend. Although DSO’s work within national guidance, schools can differ in ways as to how they deal. The DSO will want help you!
Always make a record
Record accurately what you have seen, heard, been told by peers or have had disclosed to you including the exact time and date with your signature.
Check with your DSO if the school uses a standard form or not. If they do, use it when you can. If you don’t have one at the time, still record what you have witnessed on a piece of plain paper.
"...remember, that a timely accurate account is very important."
From a complex piece of legislation, our role is quite straight forward but immensely important. We work with these students, we know them, we should see changes in them, we should raise concerns because we all do care.
Other agencies have an array of actions to undertake, and decisions to make after we have notified them.
You may feel that you get left out of the loop once you have reported your information but don’t worry about it as this is just how the system churns along and is no reflection on you.
I am going to leave with this thought.
"Our early and professional actions and reporting could be responsible for kick-starting a process which could be “life changing” for students in our care!"
Just how good is that feeling?
About our Community Expert
Community expert and former Detective Inspector, Paul Raynor has direct experience in teaching educators how to better manage behaviour within secondary education.
Paul has experience with safeguarding, and has supported schools with writing behaviour policies in conjunction with senior leaders. He is an expert in his field.