Seriously Awkward: Protect older teenagers
Posted: 24 June 2015
We launched our Boys Don’t Cry report earlier this year. Boys Don't Cry looks at the issue of boys and young men who have been trafficked into the UK and who experience sexual exploitation. It looks at the scale of exploitation and the barriers to it being identified for this particularly vulnerable group, detailing the views of professionals who have a frontline or strategic role in this area.
Phil Brewer, who leads the Metropolitan Police's Trafficking & Kidnap Unit, shared his thoughts on the report.
I’ve had responsibility for the Met’s Trafficking & Kidnap Unit for two years, and in that time my team have investigated many allegations of modern slavery.
Each crime is different from the last. All leave you questioning how one human being could exploit another without any apparent regard for the serious injury & psychological damage they inflict.
I’ve seen first-hand the professionalism and dedication of NGOs; care professionals & law enforcement working together to support extremely vulnerable victims.
But, sadly, that is not always the case. Boys Don’t Cry provides a ‘line in the sand’ moment to reflect on our approach to supporting boys and young men who are victims of trafficking.
It has been my experience over the past two years that male victims often find it far more difficult to disclose their full story than girls or women. The report findings corroborate this view.
There is no one over-arching quick-fix or solution. Every victim has different needs; some may not recognise themselves as victims. Some do but are burdened with shame and are unable to disclose and so are not provided with the correct support. Others may seek help but the situation or indicators are misread, misunderstood or just missed by those they seek help from. There is much we can do to change this.
A victim must have trust and confidence in the whole system if we are to expect them to fully disclose.
Every agency and organisation involved in tackling modern slavery must work together to improve awareness, recognise potential indicators and take the correct action.
There is, without doubt, fantastic work already going on. The fact there are so many contributors to the report highlights the significant expertise already available. However, we need to build on this and ensure our collaborative approach to modern slavery is comparable to that of other crime types where vulnerability is a key factor.