Interview: Commissioner Cressida Dick

At the Santa Marta Conference 2018 we spoke to Commissioner Cressida Dick, currently the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in London about modern slavery in UK and the importance of international collaboration.

Commissioner, could you give us picture of the emerging trends in modern slavery in the UK?

I’ve been involved with the Santa Marta Group since almost the beginning and I think we’re still learning more and more about what’s going on.

We have begun to use the legislation [Modern Slavery Act 2015] in relation to children and young people subject to what we call ‘country lines’ in the UK. The young people, who are often from London, are being used to deal drugs around the country – coerced, bullied and often enslaved.

We’re seeing victims of trafficking in a variety of sectors – particularly in the sex trade, domestic servitude, hospitality – and we’re beginning to raise awareness in the construction industry and elsewhere.

I think the Metropolitan Police has been at the forefront of some of the understanding but what we’re now seeing are referrals into our National Referral Mechanism going up considerably every quarter, mostly from statutory agencies but not exclusively. I don’t think this means necessarily that the trend is increasing in terms of the number of people being trafficked, I don’t think we understand that well enough, but it does been that people are raising their consciousness and that can only be a good thing.

How important do you think international cooperation is with the Church globally and the other countries that attended the conference?

Absolutely fundamental. Without the international cooperation we simply don’t understand the issues and for us in the UK we need to do a lot more work with so-called ‘source countries’ to try and stem the flow of people and to understand the routes traffickers take.

Making connections and relationships here with other colleagues in NGOs, law enforcement and the Church is a fantastic opportunity for a police officer like me.