Initial EuroCOP general submission from an operational perspective on the current direction of communication on the EU strategy on trafficking in human beings (2021-2025)

1# It is clear that police forces across Europe play a vital role in dismantling human trafficking and tackling organised crime syndicates. Other governmental agencies can also contribute to this work in a variety of ways, and EU communications should reflect that comprehensive partnerships are essential – and will lead to successful outcomes.

2# EuroCOP have studied in detail the proposed EU strategies in the areas under discussion, but we see a lack of clarity on the practical application of the Roadmap within the different EU legal texts. Investment in practical codes would help to ensure a more coordinated, harmonised approach to tackling organised crime and preventing human trafficking.

3# EuroCOP full supports the implementation of strict health and safety codes that regulate the operation of businesses such as bars, restaurants and beauty salons – as most EU countries already do. However, it is also important to ensure better regulation of other establishments, such as massage parlours, which are often used as a façade for sex/human trafficking, and we believe that any agreed roadmap should have this constructed within it.

4# EuroCOP considers it essential for the EU to develop a coordinated transnational response in its construction of its Roadmap of human trafficking.

5# EuroCOP recognised that governments need to come together and cooperate to address this crime. Interpol and Europol have become important players in multilateral anti-trafficking cooperation, but police cooperation in this field faces profound uncertainty in the coming months and years. A number of novel complications have emerged – not least the COVID-19 crisis, and the ongoing impact of Brexit. Brexit is affecting all aspects of cross-border police cooperation, including data exchange, and EuroCOP is adamant on the need to maintain adequate reciprocity between EU member state police forces and those of third countries.

6# The powerful impact of large-scale cross-border police operations demonstrates the value of international agencies in assisting the police in countries of origin, transit and destination in a joint effort to combat criminal networks involved in human trafficking. It is important to recognise the positive practices that are already in place and the roadmap can build on these foundations.

7# EuroCOP believe it is essential to fully track the financing of criminal gangs to detect money laundering and this should play an important role in the construction of the of the roadmap. It is acknowledged that this is an essential part of the business model of almost all criminal organisations, including those involved in the human trafficking network.

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