A cross-party parliamentary committee has published a report on victims of modern day slavery. The report highlighted “inexcusable” failures in the UK’s current system for dealing with modern slavery and pointed to a system which puts survivors at risk and plays into the hands of abusers. Frank Field, the Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, commented that there should be applause for the leading role the UK has taken in response to this ‘barbaric crime’, as Theresa May has labelled it, but “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.”
The UK Government estimates there are between 10,000 and 13,000 victims of modern slavery who are referred to the National Referral Mechanism, the framework to assess if someone is a victim of slavery. The report notes the lack of options and security victims of trafficking have after their status is determined. Field believes that the incoming Government needs to review the national response mechanism and create basic safeguards and statuses 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.”
This report outlines what needs to change and be implemented for victims of slavery, including: securing prosecutions, improving identification, and helping victims become survivors in order to rebuild their life. Victims need tangible resources and protection to begin a life that does not end back in slavery and trafficking. Field and the Work and Pensions Committee are urging the next Government to open up a further front in its work to tackle modern slavery.
Mia Hasenson-Gross, Director of René Cassin, responded by stating that:
‘The report is very welcome, it’s important to have MPs from all parties recognise the gap in existing protections for victims of modern slavery. René Cassin will continue to advocate for the rights of vulnerable people during and after the election”