As the Modern Slavery Bill is launched in Parliament on Monday 16 December by Home Secretary Theresa May, CEO of Hope for Justice welcomes the reforms that will see the appointment of a modern slavery commissioner who will hold law enforcement and government bodies to account.
The Bill aims to mark a decisive turning point in better protecting victims, while at the same time becoming tougher on the criminals that exploit them. It will also seek a commitment from British companies to be more transparent to ensure that supply chains are free from slave labour.
The Bill also seeks to introduce tougher measures for those involved in trafficking and better care provision for those trafficked in and around the UK for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labour.
Ben Cooley, founder and CEO of Hope for Justice, welcomes the bill and reiterates that organisations involved in seeking an end to slavery must work together and alongside the Government effort.
“This is the time for the public, for Parliament, for agencies and organisations to unite and work together to eradicate this hidden and devastating crime. Hope for Justice is identifying victims on the frontline and we’re looking to see this Bill enforced and modern day slaves meaningfully protected.”
“We’ve learnt from experience that victim welfare is inextricably linked to the prosecution of perpetrators. When victims are supported from rescue right through to the courtroom, their testimonies make all the difference in seeing justice served. Sadly, we don’t always see that happen in the UK and Hope for Justice exists to stand in those gaps.”
Many victims of trafficking are placed into the National Referral Mechanism, which is a framework for identifying victims of human trafficking and ensuring they receive comprehensive protection and support. However, quite often they are fearful of embarking on this process.
Ben continues: “This Bill is a critical step towards ending slavery in our country but going forwards we must all ensure that victims are supported so they don’t disappear on the other side of initial aftercare provision just to be re-trafficked.”
Hope for Justice is a charitable organisation funded entirely through donations and works tirelessly in the investigation, recovery and increasingly the re-settlement of victims of human trafficking in the UK.
It was recently part of a multi-agency operation, in Leeds, as part of a police investigation into human trafficking, which saw 17 men, women and children rescued from exploitation.
The three-day operation saw 60 West Yorkshire Police officers, supported by Hope for Justice, Leeds City Council staff, health agencies and the Salvation Army, visit 25 addresses across Leeds to offer help to families identified as being potential victims of trafficking.