The covert nature of the crime makes it very difficult to provide an accurate assessment of the scale of the problem faced by the United Kingdom.
The UK Human Trafficking Centre and the Serious Organised Crime Agency continue to develop our knowledge of the scale of human trafficking through a variety of means, including analysis of the outcomes of Operation Pentameter 2 and ongoing intelligence collation. In addition to the work being undertake by these agencies, funding is in place for dedicated intelligence officers in each of the 10 Regional Intelligence Units in England and Wales to focus on organised immigration crime, including human trafficking.
We expect to have an up to date assessment of the extent of the problem faced by the UK by the end of the year.
On 17 December 2008 we ratified the Council of Europe convention on action against trafficking in human beings. By April 2009 at the latest we will introduce a reflection period of 45 days and a renewable one year residence permit for identified victims of human trafficking. Additionally we are introducing formal identification measures under a national referral mechanism by which victims are systematically identified by a competent authority and referred to appropriate support.
This will further strengthen our existing collaborative way of identifying, referring and supporting victims.