Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')
As you may be aware the purpose of the Act is to allow a general right of access to information held at the time of a request, by a Public Authority (including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions.
My requests relate to the procedure of interviewing potential child victims of modern slavery/human trafficking. I would greatly appreciate it if you could provide the following information within the specified time frames:
1. The number of individuals under the age of 18 who are potential victims of modern slavery/human trafficking and have been interviewed by a Joint Investigation Team comprised of both this police force and the local children’s social care/children’s social services department from April 2018 till present?
2. Please could you also provide information on where these interviews are most likely to take place?
3. Please detail if this police force and the local children's services department in your area are co-located (to mean not only physically located together, but also the sharing of case management systems and processes).
4. Please provide a copy of any policy, guidance, training and/or instruction document on the use of joint interviewing for police officers and social workers in your Local Authority area.
After we sought clarity you advised: To clarify, by 'joint interviews' I mean where a child is suspected to be a victim of trafficking so both the police and social workers conduct an interview with said child at the same time.
Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the Safeguarding Department of Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held in part by Northumbria Police.
I am able to disclose the located information to you as follows.
1. Between April 2018 and May 2018 there are 184 recorded crimes of modern slavery and or trafficking, from the crimes recorded, 58 recorded crimes relate to children/young person, (a person under the age of 18) it is worth bearing in mind that there could be multiple crimes linked to one victim/incident.
Due to the recording system and data held within these crimes we cannot accurately state how many have been subject to joint interviews/ABE.
2. The interviews will take place within a police building or one of the other partner agencies properties. Partner agencies are listed within the College of Policing APP, see link here…’
3. Northumbria Police encourage working together practices and have in place Multi Agency Safeguarding Hubs (MASH) in each of the 6 Local Authorities. These are co-located in social services premises, whereby police and other services work together to protect vulnerable adults and children. In addition Northumbria Police have stand-alone Victims Hubs co-located with other agencies, specifically dealing with Exploitation (Sexual & Criminal), Modern Slavery and Trafficking of children and adults. These facilities have dedicated video recording suites to support victims and witnesses to provide evidential accounts.
Within the MASH police have access to a read only system belonging to Children’s Services. Other services do not have access to police data bases or systems however strategy meetings and discussions are held to share information to safeguard vulnerable adults and children.
4. As the information you have requested at this point is accessible by other means I have not provided you with a copy of the information and will rely on Section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. You should therefore consider this a refusal for your request.
I have provided an explanation to this exemption below.
Section 21 (1) - Information accessible by other means
Information which is reasonably accessible to the applicant is exempt information.
We comply with guidance set out by the College of Policing Authorised Professional Practice for Major Investigations and Public Protection which includes a chapter on modern slavery and focuses on Interviews. In order to assist we have provided the link below.
The primary objective is to safeguard complainants and witnesses by adhering to the principles documented within;
• Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018. This sets out how individuals and organisations should work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. There is a clear role for the Police and other services in terms of Safeguarding Children.
• Section 11 of the Children Act 2004. Under this section the Police have statutory duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
• The Care and Support Statutory guidance, updated 26th October 2018. This provides guidance on the Care Act 2014, which repealed the document ’No Secrets’
• Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal Proceedings: Guidance on interviewing victims and witnesses, and guidance on using special measures March 2011.