The worst human traffickers are to be given life sentence under new guidelines to be introduced by the Government.
Policing Minister Damian Green commented that human trafficking was something “no civilised country should tolerate”:
“On Anti-Slavery Day I am proud that this Government is standing strong against those who profit from human misery and last year gave £3m to support those who have suffered at their hands.”
Government figures show that cases of human trafficking in the UK have risen by 25% since 2012. The largest number of victims come from Nigeria, Vietnam, Albania, Romania and China. The report went on to indicate that there has been a 300% increase in Albanian trafficking, a 171% increase in victims from Lithuania, and 148% increase from Poland since 2011.
New legislation is planned to simplify the current laws on trafficking and make it easier to institute prosecutions. A new report by an inter-departmental ministerial group on human trafficking has revealed that 1,186 victims were referred to the authorities in 2012 as opposed to only 946 victims in 2011.
Victims brought to the UK are forced to work as house slaves, tending to cannabis farms and as prostitutes. There are also more recent moves towards forced begging, and benefit fraud with gang masters taking all the proceeds and the victims receiving nothing. Those targeted are often lured to the UK with the promise of free travel, jobs and accommodation.
Klara Skrivankova, from the Anti-Slavery International Group, wants greater protection for victims including the right to stay in the United Kingdom once a victim has been lured here:
“Tougher penalties and longer sentences alone do not suffice.
“Unless the protection of victims is put on a statutory footing, we’re unlikely to see more prosecutions.”
Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said:
“The national approach is very much about the protection of the victim,
“A lot of people are prosecuted for GBH, rape, violence against the individual – it’s far easier to bring the perpetrator to justice this way. This Bill will make it easier to prosecute for trafficking.”
The latest Government figures suggest that more focus needs to be on prosecutions. David Hanson MP, Labour’s shadow immigration minister, pointed to the last Government report which identified 946 potential victims of human trafficking, but “only eight convictions”.
“The Government also needs to wake up to the fact that 60% of trafficked children simply go missing again in the UK after they’ve come to the attention of the authorities,” he added. “It should be a source of shame.”