To stop human trafficking in the UK, we need a support system that victims know they can trust – A blog by Kate Roberts.
14 October 2020
Anti-Slavery Day 2020 marks five and a half years since the UK passed the Modern Slavery Act. When the Act was passed it was welcomed as a significant step forward in addressing trafficking in the UK, but it lacked the necessary protections for those most directly affected by modern slavery- its victims, the survivors of slavery.
In 2019, over 10,000 people were referred into the National Referral Mechanism, the UK’s system which tracks how many people have been identified as potential victims of trafficking. Yet the truth is, of course, that no one knows how many people are enslaved or exploited at any one time
People who have survived slavery, which includes long periods with little or no control over any aspect of their lives, need stability and support from a system they can trust. They need to be believed when they tell their story, and then have a clear period of time during which they know they can safely begin to process what has happened to them, without having to fight for basic support. Without this we cannot expect people to make the leap for freedom or be able to stay free.
People who have experienced slavery or trafficking have experienced deception and betrayal of the worst kind. Knowing that there are clear routes to recovery, offering sustainable freedom, is critical to both escaping an exploiter and disclosing abuse. At the moment we do not know is what happens to people in the years following their identification as a victim of trafficking. This is an extraordinary failure.
We need your help
This is your chance to influence the UK’s anti-slavery laws.
Monday 19th October 2020, the day after Anti- Slavery Day, is an opportunity for the UK to once again show leadership in addressing trafficking by prioritising survivor recovery and preventing re-trafficking, by supporting two important pieces of legislation.
Clause 12 of the Immigration and Social Security Bill, recently voted in by the House of Lords, is a stopgap that will make sure that, after Brexit, trafficked EU nationals will still receive 12 months of support in the UK. Without the adoption of this clause confirmed victims of trafficking from the EU will fall into the cracks of existing legislation. Adopting Clause 12 will send a clear message that it understands the importance of guaranteeing survivors from the EU options for recovery.
As all victims, including British nationals, need protection it is important that UK government shows leadership and an understanding of survivors’ needs by going further. Clause 12 only addresses the issues raised by the end of the transition period for victims who are EU nationals. Victims of all nationalities need guaranteed support and protection if they are to feel safe enough to work with the authorities and give evidence against their traffickers.
For this reason, it is important that government supports the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill. Co-sponsored by Lord McColl and Iain Duncan Smith MP, this Bill will see that ALL confirmed victims of trafficking, including British citizens, would have guaranteed 12 months support, giving practical options for disclosure, recovery and beginning to rebuild lives. Giving this guarantee, in law to survivors, is the beginning of earning their trust and supporting their sustainable freedom.
Government need to know that they will be supported to do the right thing. Please write to your MP asking they ask government to show real leadership and support the Victim Support (Modern Slavery) Bill, and (before the 19th October) Clause 12 of the Immigration and Social Security Bill.
The Modern Slavery Act 5 years on
Find out more about the successes and failures of the 2015 UK Modern Slavery Act
Learn more about modern slavery
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