New measures announced this week could make the UK a world leader in the fight against modern slavery, it has been claimed.
The Government on Monday unveiled a draft Modern Slavery Bill – which the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) called for in its report It Happens Here in March.
The legislation will offer better protection for victims, harsher punishment for perpetrators and will see an Anti-Slavery Commissioner appointed to hold authorities and other organisations to account.
Tougher sanctions will be brought in to deter traffickers under the proposals, and there is an aim to increase the maximum custodial sentence for offenders from 14 years to life.
It is also hoped the Bill will correct a misunderstanding that has seen many victims of modern slavery who have been trafficked from abroad treated first as illegal immigrants or criminals.
When asked at Monday's launch what motivated the Government to introduce the Bill, Home Secretary Theresa May said it was the CSJ that had “brought the issue into sharp focus”.
In recent months the CSJ has hosted a series of evidence sessions to help shape the Bill. At the sessions, led by Labour MP Frank Field, experts from the UK and the international community outlined what they think should be included in the legislation. The resulting report – Establishing Britain as a world leader in the fight against modern slavery – was published this week.
Andrew Wallis, who chaired the CSJ’s Working Group on Modern Slavery, took part in a host of media interviews about the Bill, including: BBC News, BBC Newsnight and Radio 4’s PM show.