CARE backs trafficking victims, urges support for Modern Slavery bill

A coalition of organisations from the Free for Good campaign yesterday delivered petitions asking the UK government to back the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill.

Campaigners handed in a petition to the Home Office and then marched to 10, Downing St to hand in a petition there.

Campaigners are urging support for a bill to protect victims of modern slavery – including some pictured here with their backs to the camera.CARE

The organisations included Anti-Slavery International, Freedom United, the Co-op, Global Citizen, CARE (Christian Action Research and Education) and members of Survivor Alliance.

Sponsored by Lord McColl of Dulwich and Iain Duncan Smith MP, the bill would guarantee that all confirmed victims of slavery in England and Wales received comprehensive support including accommodation, counselling, healthcare a support worker and legal advice for at least 12 months after the authorities grant them victim status, instead of the current 45 days.

It would also guarantee their immigration status for the first 12 months to ensure the victims can focus on recovering and rebuilding their lives free from worrying about the threat of deportation, often back to countries which wouldn't guarantee their protection from their traffickers.

Currently, the Government only guarantees 45 days of support for the potential victims while their cases are reviewed by the Home Office to decide whether they are deemed to have been a victim of slavery and a further 45 days after that decision is made for those confirmed as victims.

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

According to campaigners, victims are likely to end up without a roof over their heads or money to pay for their basic needs, unable to work legally and at risk of re-trafficking as a result.

Proposed drop-in centres have yet to be established and in any case they will be limited to those victims who have the right to remain in the UK.

CARE spokeswoman Louise Gleich said: 'Providing victims with adequate support is not just the right thing to do for their recovery, it is also essential if we are to bring traffickers to justice and prevent them exploiting others in the future. Without protection, support and stability victims cannot give evidence to police and courts meaning traffickers go free and the cycle of exploitation continues.'

Lord McColl said: 'I very much welcome the support for my Bill shown by so many people in these petitions. Victims of modern slavery really need at least 12 months of support and stability in order to recover from the awful exploitation they have been through. These petitions show that the public agrees – now is the time for the Government to act by supporting the bill.'