Closing trafficking team is madness, says Emma Thompson

23 October 2009

The Oscar winning actress Emma Thompson described plans to close the UK’s only dedicated human trafficking team as ‘madness’.

Speaking in London at the Metropolitan Police’s Trafficking Conference, she said: “The decision to dismantle the only team who possess the expertise to deal with trafficking is madness. You don’t just close down the one team that is actually starting to do something.”

Ms Thompson is the chairman of the Helen Bamber Foundation, which works with the survivors of extreme trauma, including victims of trafficking.

She added: “Expertise requires focus and years of work. The bottom line is that without the expertise you won’t have justice because the trafficked women won’t be prepared to tell the police the information they need to make a case.”

Anti-Slavery International, along with NGO partners, has expressed its concerns in a joint letter to the Met’s Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson over fears of the closure of the team.

Aidan McQuade, Director of Anti-Slavery International, said: “The Human Trafficking Team offers colleagues across the entire Met expertise on a crime that ignores national borders and police jurisdictions.

“The only people likely to benefit from the disbanding of the team are the traffickers themselves who will no longer have a dedicated unit disrupting their criminal activities.”