207 year wait for a new Bill on slavery

207 year wait for a new Bill on slavery

At the Head Office of Europe’s largest lorry manufacturer, IVECO, the Chairman of the Human Trafficking Foundation spoke to interested workers on the challenge of the new legislation promised for the Queen’s Speech, and the dangers of it just proving a ‘damp squib’.

Whilst Mr Steen welcomed any provisions to lock up convicted traffickers for longer, he said that “the Bill must not become a lost opportunity. Longer sentences on their own were unlikely to address what has become the second largest criminal activity in the world – the trade in human beings as commodities”. Whilst detailed provision in the Queen’s Speech is not yet available, Mr Steen, the Special Advisor to the All Party Parliamentary Group said he was anxious that the recommendations of the Joint Select Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill, published 8th April, should be followed in full.2

If we are to drive modern slavery out of Britain then we need to enlist help from victims. They are the key to whereabouts of traffickers. They must feel safe and secure enough without fear of retribution either for themselves or their family, for them to ‘spill the beans’. Their welfare and ongoing support must be at the centre of the new legislation. Nor is there evidence that stiffer penalties will deter traffickers. It may not. The ability to seize and sell their assets will.

Mr Steen also pointed out that the need for legislation to establish transparency in supply chains could make Britain a world leader, just as it was 207 years ago when the trade in slaves was abolished.

Mr Steen welcomed the lead responsibility into the Home Office, but warned that the problem in Britain was not just the hidden nature of the crime, but the hidden behaviour of those working to eradicate it. He said, “we need to promote a more open and visible society, which would be welcomed by all those involved, and especially victims”, and pointed out that to gain public awareness, meant a different attitude nationwide.

ENDS

 

Note to Editors:

1.       For further information please contact Anthony Steen at anthony@humantraffickingfoundation.org or on 077831364532 or Emma Wade at emma@humantraffickingfoundation.org

2.       http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/joint-select...