As part of Hope for Justice’s work with survivors of slavery and human trafficking, advocates and Hub leaders often work alongside local police forces. Ryan Malyk (pictured), a Detective Inspector based in West Yorkshire, saw an opportunity not only to work with Hope for Justice but to learn from one another to refine their respective approaches when working with survivors. We spoke with Ryan about his time spent working with Hope for Justice’s West Yorkshire Hub, his involvement with anti-trafficking and slavery initiatives, and the lessons he took from this collaboration.
How did you become involved with Hope for Justice?
Ryan Malyk: I first became aware of Hope for Justice through my church and a colleague that had done some fundraising for the charity. Although, my interest was really drawn when I was asked to review a case of modern slavery where Hope for Justice had referred the case on the individual’s behalf. From a police perspective, I could see that there was a benefit having Hope for Justice supporting the victim, but the differences in approach and processes, meant there were challenges in communication and expectations. As part of a development programme at work, I had to complete a community placement and I decided to spend it in the Hope for Justice West Yorkshire Hub in Bradford to learn more about their approaches and share about the processes and procedures within policing, with a view to improving the service offered to victims.
In what way were you involved with Hope for Justice?
I spent a week with the Hub: it was a mutual learning experience in which we compared cases and approaches. We were able to understand not only how each other approached certain cases by why and what outcomes we were looking to achieve.
What were these main differences that you identified?
It is clear that whilst Hope for Justice always treated individuals as victims from the start, we as police may have to view individuals as suspects depending on how we first interact with them. If, for example, a trafficking victim is found by police working in cannabis farm, the first course of action is likely to be the arrest of that individual. This is because of the very nature of working in the cannabis farm, it is suspected by the officer that the individual has committed a criminal offence. As such, the law states we should offer the person the protections of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, such as free independent legal advice before answering any questions from the police under caution. Their status as a victim of trafficking may not be that obvious at first, or because they have been arrested and due to coming from nations where police corruption is an issue, they may not feel they can speak freely to officers. These cases can be complicated, which is why collaboration is helpful.
What do you consider to be Hope for Justice’s main impact in their work?
Hope for Justice provides fantastic victim support. They are able to engage with victims in a way that police often cannot, due to their impartial nature. We want victims to feel supported – if we’ve got ways of being able to give them additional support through Hope for Justice, that’s key for me. Ultimately it encourages engagement, which not only keeps them safe, but can result in prosecution of traffickers and meets both of our objectives of keeping vulnerable people safe and prevents traffickers from exploiting further victims.
How has Hope for Justice impacted your own life and work with the police?
Increasing lines of communication with Hope for Justice has shown just how much support they can provide through the referral process and helps us understand the victim and their journey better. This can help keep victims onboard through a prosecution process. Having that 3rd party there to say that ‘the police are there to help’ is crucial: at the end of the day, we’re all trying to stop the traffickers and protect vulnerable people. We can see the benefit of working with Hope for Justice in terms of this benefit being mutual. Clear communication and collaboration between organisations is important to keep our communities safe.
Hope for Justice would like to thank DI Ryan Malyk for his time, insight, and ongoing work with Hope for Justice in tackling issues of modern slavery and trafficking in West Yorkshire.