Bill to support victims of modern slavery is 'timely'

Campaigners want better and longer protection for victims of modern slavery.CARE

Christian campaign group CARE is welcoming a "timely" new Bill being introduced to Parliament on Monday to provide more support for victims of modern slavery. 

The Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill is being introduced to the House of Lords by Lord McColl.  Provisions include at least 12 months of guaranteed support for slavery victims across England and Wales, with the possibility of further support following assessment.

CARE said that the Private Member's Bill is a "timely piece of legislation" that will "significantly improve" the level of help available to victims. 

The Bill is being introduced after the Government last year conceded that its 45-day policy of support for victims of human trafficking victims was incompatible with the Trafficking Convention

CARE said the new Bill offers the chance for the Government to develop a "victim first approach". 

CARE's Communications Manager, James Mildred, said: "It was a Conservative Government that pioneered the Modern Slavery Act which covers England and Wales and it would be fitting if it was the new Conservative Government that now improved on that landmark piece of legislation.

"One area of the Act that desperately needs improving is the support currently on offer to victims.

"Lord McColl's new Bill is about putting victims first, which is the most effective way of giving them the best chance of rebuilding their lives." 

The Bill is being introduced as the number of victims of modern slavery continues to rise.  Recent figures showed that 2,808 victims were referred to the National Referral Mechanism between July and September last year, up 21 per cent from the previous quarter and up 61 per cent from the same period in 2018.

The most common type of exploitation was found to be labour exploitation, followed by sexual exploitation, while two-thirds of the victims were male.

"Modern slavery is a tragic reality in communities across England and Wales and if we fail to give victims robust support, they are at risk of destitution, homelessness or re-trafficking," said Mr Mildred.

"What Lord McColl's Bill does is send a really clear message to victims that they will be protected and not abandoned.

"Modern slavery is a dehumanising trade that causes utter devastation and today we are calling on the Government to play its part in eradicating this vile trade by backing Lord McColl's Bill."