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In 2014, over 2,300 individuals were identified as victims of trafficking in the UK from over 96 different countries. Human trafficking is a hidden crime and one of the first steps to combating it is to identify victims so that they can be rescued and protected from further harm. As such, IOM UK has developed a short training course to help key professionals understand the indicators of human trafficking and how to take appropriate action when needed. In order to add weight and recognition to participants’ learning achievements, IOM UK has recently attained ‘Continual Professional Development (CPD) Accreditation’. CPD is used to ensure professionals remain effective and capable in employment. All participants will now receive a CPD training certificate, contributing towards their personal professional development.

The training programme has been running since 2011 with over 2000 individuals in the UK taking part, including front line practitioners, students and members of the public. To meet the varied requirements of attendees, IOM offers anything from half day to fast track courses lasting just one hour. Participants include social services personnel, local authority practitioners, healthcare professionals, police, immigration staff and teachers.

The programme provides an overview of human trafficking, including the definition, international and national legal frameworks, causes and consequences and indicators. It goes on to detail identification and the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), and ends with information on taking action, including maintaining a victim-centred approach and appropriate pathways for return and reintegration.

IOM has found that the multi-agency trainings work best; all trainings include group work and require active participation, and by inviting participants from a range of fields and sectors to a single training, light and shade is added to a vibrant group discussion. Antony Botting, the Modern Slavery Project Lead at Croydon Council, states, “The IOM have trained over 500 practitioners in Croydon, which has been very well received - statutory services and the voluntary sector have said that they benefitted from it. This is an essential component in the drive to improve the identification of suspected cases of human trafficking, which practitioners may encounter on a day to day basis”.

Training is an invaluable tool, unique in its ability to be both proactive and reactive. Those who have completed the course have been able to define the concept of trafficking and outline the general issues with regards to this, distinguish between trafficking and smuggling, recognise the impact of trafficking on victims, and identify possible indicators.

Training is high on the agenda of combatting trafficking. As outlined by the United States Trafficking in Persons Report, ‘Governments cannot sit back and wait for victims to self-identify; rather, they must proactively seek victims out by investigating high-risk sectors, screening vulnerable populations, and training relevant government officials to recognize trafficking when they see it1’. It is IOM’s hope that additional agencies and authorities will recognise the value of training those on the frontline; until those in position to identify are equipped to do so, victims will fall between the gaps into further exploitation.

For more information on the IOM training programme, please contact