Survivors of modern slavery in Britain should be allowed to remain in the country for a year to recover and help bring traffickers to justice, campaigners said on Thursday as they urged the government to back a proposed law supporting victims.
The bill would ensure slavery survivors receive help from housing to healthcare and the right to stay in Britain for a year – up from 45 days at present – while deciding whether to apply to remain indefinitely or accept help to return home.
This would allow victims to recover without fear of ending up destitute or homeless in Britain and vulnerable to further abuse, or being deported to countries where they could be trafficked once more, several anti-slavery charities said.
At least 7,000 suspected victims of slavery were uncovered in Britain last year, up a third on 2017, according to data that activists said last month raised concerns about the government’s ability to support a growing number of survivors.
“Providing victims with adequate support is not just the right thing to do for their recovery, it is also essential if we are to bring traffickers to justice and prevent them exploiting others in the future,” said Louise Gleich of the charity CARE.
“Without protection, support and stability, victims cannot give evidence to police and courts meaning traffickers go free and the cycle of exploitation continues.”
Campaigners said they would deliver 60,000 messages on Thursday including signatures collected on a Freedom United petition backing the bill to Britain’s Home Office (interior ministry) and Prime Minister Theresa May’s residence.
The bill was put forward by parliament’s unelected upper chamber in 2017 but is now in limbo in the lower house, said Gleich, a policy expert, who urged the government to ensure it is debated rather than letting it drop off the radar for good. Read more