From 28 September to 5 October 2020, a delegation of the Council of Europe's Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) held a series of online meetings with stakeholders across the United Kingdom as part of the third evaluation round of the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. The focus of this evaluation round of the Convention is on trafficking victims’ access to justice and effective remedies. In addition to the new thematic focus, GRETA is examining how key recommendations made in its second evaluation report on the United Kingdom have been implemented.
GRETA launched the third round of evaluation of the Convention in respect of the United Kingdom by sending the questionnaire for this round to the UK authorities on 3 October 2019. The UK authorities’ reply to the questionnaire was received on 20 February 2020 and published on GRETA’s website. Subsequently, GRETA was prevented from carrying out a physical visit to the United Kingdom due to the COVID-19 sanitary and travel restrictions. Mindful of the importance of proceeding with the third evaluation of the United Kingdom without further delay, GRETA decided to hold as many online meetings as possible, reserving itself the possibility of organising a targeted physical visit whenever possible.
GRETA held online meetings with Dame Sara Thornton, Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Modern Slavery, officials from the Home Office, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the Crown Prosecution Service, the National Crime Agency, the Gangmasters Labour Abuse Authority, the Legal Aid Agency, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, the Local Government Association, as well as Independent Child Trafficking Guardians.
In Northern Ireland, GRETA held meetings with Naomi Long, Minister of Justice, as well as officials from the Department of Justice, the Department of Health, the Health and Social Care Board, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and the Legal Services Agency. Meetings were also held with Koulla Yiasouma, Commissioner for Children and Young People for Northern Ireland, and representatives of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.
In Scotland, GRETA held meetings with officials from the Scottish Government, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Police Scotland, the Scottish Legal Aid Board, the Scottish Guardianship Service, and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. A meeting was also held with members of the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Human Trafficking.
In Wales, the GRETA delegation held meetings with Stephen Chapman, Anti-Slavery Co-ordinator for Wales, and members of the Wales Anti-Slavery Leadership Group and Anti-Slavery Delivery Group.
Separate meetings were held with representatives of civil society, lawyers and survivors of human trafficking.
The meetings were conducted by Davor Derenčinović, President of GRETA, Helga Gayer, Second Vice-President of GRETA, Petya Nestorova, Executive Secretary of the Convention, and Daniela Ranalli of the Secretariat of the Convention.