The Home Office has announced that GPs, midwives, youth workers and social workers are among those professionals who will soon benefit from training to identify and help victims of human trafficking.
Training will be rolled out to frontline professionals in major towns and cities across the UK.
The aim is to improve awareness and understanding of trafficking, aid the identification of potential child and adult victims and give information on practical support available including independent legal advice, counselling and help to return to their community/country of origin.
Experienced anti-trafficking practitioners will also provide information on referring suspected victims to support agencies including the UK's victim identification and support system (the National Referral Mechanism).
Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: “Human trafficking is an appalling crime and one which the government is committed to tackling.
“We have already made significant progress in the fight against trafficking with more work than ever before to prosecute criminals and stop organised gangs in their tracks. But we are not complacent and training for frontline professionals is vital in order to identify and protect those at risk of harm.”
Training will be delivered by five charities – the National Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), Stop the Traffik, Eaves, Thames Reach and the Counter Trafficking Bureau – who have been given grant funding from the Home Office to work with professionals who are most likely to encounter victims in their day to day work.
Formal training programmes and workshops will be integrated into professional development modules and delivered in Cardiff, Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds, Brighton and London.
Students completing social work degrees at universities will be given training as part of their course. Community groups and volunteers will also benefit from awareness sessions and strengthened relationships with the police and local trafficking resources.
John Cameron, Head of the NSPCC's helpline, said: “Trafficking is one the great scourges of child abuse so we must do everything possible to stamp it out. This funding will help us train professionals who form the crucial first line of defence against this dreadful crime that blights the lives of many children.
“It's an extremely positive and welcome move by the government which will help strengthen child protection and bolster the battle against trafficking.”
The training is part of the government's strategy to support victims who are lured to the UK by gangs and then exploited for sex, labour and domestic slavery.
The government is also co-ordinating action between the UK and countries including China, Nigeria, Vietnam, Slovakia and Romania which house organised trafficking gangs that now pose the greatest threat to the UK.
Action includes: intelligence sharing with overseas police forces; lobbying governments to ratify the UN convention against transnational, organised crime; and raising awareness about trafficking through local media in source countries.