Frank Field MP
Your MP for Birkenhead
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MPs warn UK must improve response to modern slavery

01 May 2017

MPs are calling for Britain to step up its response to modern slavery because victims face a "lackadaisical" response to their "unimaginable" suffering which can leave them destitute while their abusers go free, a report warns.

The Work and Pensions Committee gave praise to Theresa May for guiding through the "pioneering" Modern Slavery Act 2015 during her time as Home Secretary which established new protections for victims.

However, the report said the government must now put in place "basic minimum safeguards" to help victims to rebuild their lives, receive enough support to testify against their abusers and be protected from being re-trafficked into the "hell" of slavery.

The cross-party group of MPs called for frontline staff to be given proper training "who are totally unprepared" on how to help slavery victims.

It is estimated that there are between 10,000 and 13,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK.

It heard evidence from one woman who recounted how, when trying to obtain a National Insurance number, her adviser said, audibly through the room: "Oh my God, you were trafficked. Oh my God, I've only seen that on the television."

The lack of staff training and proper support is hitting efforts to successfully prosecute slave masters as thousands of victims have not come forward, while others end up destitute due to a lack of help, the committee said.

The report said it was unacceptable that the National Referral Mechanism system for identifying victims does not record how many have been through it more than once, which would indicate if they have been re-trafficked.

The committee also called for foreign victims to be given the right to stay in the UK for at least a year, with a personal plan for their recovery, given that refugees are given five years leave to remain once their status is recognised.

Labour MP and committee chairman Frank Field said: "While we applaud the leading role the UK has taken in tackling this 'barbaric crime', as the Prime Minister has called it, when you consider what is at stake, there is a shocking lack of awareness and co-ordination in the frontline services dealing with modern slavery.

"What these people go through is unimaginable, and yet it is happening, here, now, and our response seems almost lackadaisical: a paper exercise earning you recognition as having been enslaved, which then entitles you to almost nothing as far as we can see.

"The incoming Government must conduct an urgent review of our national response and put in place some basic minimum safeguards, status, that will allow a person to begin to rebuild a life, testify against their abuser if they feel able, and above all, be protected from the unimaginable but real possibility of falling victim again."


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