A review of slavery in Britain will lead to tough new sanctions against human traffickers, including life sentences in the worst cases.Labour MP Frank Field formally launched an evidence review which will by Christmas scope out the content of the Government’s anti-slavery bill to be introduced in Parliament next year.
The number of cases of human trafficking discovered in the United Kingdom has risen by 25 per cent in the last year, with trafficking on the rise from countries such as Albania, Poland and Lithuania.
An earlier report by the inter-departmental ministerial group on human trafficking revealed that 1,186 victims were referred to the authorities in 2012, compared with 946 victims in 2011. The largest numbers were from Romania, Vietnam, Nigeria, Albania and China. Figures released by the Global Slavery Index highlighted that at least 880,000 people are forced to work in slave labour conditions across Europe, including 270,000 victims of sexual exploitation.
Victims’ Minister Damien Green confirmed that the National Crime Agency will have a key role to play and the new legislation will also mean tougher sentences for gangmasters who exploit not just foreigners but the many Britons who are forced into work.
Mr Field said: “We now have an opportunity to once again establish the UK as a global leader in the fight against slavery. The review will mark a decisive turning point in better protecting victims whilst turning the firepower of the state against slave owners and traffickers running this evil trade”.
Home Secretary Theresa May said: “We must all work together if we are to end the scourge of modern slavery and the organised criminal gangs behind it. I am grateful to Frank Field for undertaking this work and I know that he shares my determination to rid modern Britain of slavery.”
Klara Skrivankova, from the Anti-Slavery International group, wants greater protection for victims– including the right to stay in Britain. She said:?“Tougher penalties and longer sentences alone do not suffice. Unless the protection of victims is put on a statutory footing, we’re unlikely to see more prosecutions.”