Northern Ireland

Three-year strategy launched to tackle ‘brutal and appalling’ crimes of human trafficking and modern slavery

Justice minister Naomi Long said victims are ‘some of the most vulnerable and traumatised in the criminal justice system’

PICTURE POSED BY A MODEL A teenage girl with her head in her hands
Stormont's new three-year strategy to tackle human trafficking has been launched by justice minister Naomi Long. (Gareth Fuller/PA)

A new three-year strategy aimed at tackling human trafficking and modern slavery in the north has been launched to tackle crimes undermining “the fundamental principles of human rights and dignity”.

Stormont’s justice minister Naomi Long launched the strategy on Wednesday, aimed at allowing her department to “take a more sustained approach to identifying and eradicating” such crimes.

The department had previously published an annual strategy, but has moved to a three-year one, as “a longer-term approach combined with an annual progress report will provide an appropriate and proportionate level of assurance that we can deliver on the longer-term vision”.

The new strategy is described as “the result of extensive collaboration between government, civil society organisations, and the private sector”.

It includes plans to enhance responses to pursue and disrupt offenders, better protect victims, and increase awareness training to help with preventing offenses.

Ms Long said modern slavery and human trafficking “are an affront to our values as a society”.

“They are brutal and appalling crimes which undermine the fundamental principles of human rights and dignity,” she said.

“Victims are among some of the most vulnerable and traumatised in the criminal justice system. They may not be recognised as victims, and they may not recognise themselves as victims.

“The issue requires a societal wide effort if we are to raise awareness and successfully tackle this heinous crime and collaborative working is a key element of the strategy. The department will engage regularly with stakeholders to ensure objectives are achieved.”