When a person escapes from modern slavery they need help. Somewhere safe to stay, medical treatment, mental health support, legal advice, training, education and most importantly someone to walk alongside them as they figure out their next steps in rebuilding their life. Most of all they need security and stability as they look to the future.
Unlike victims of modern slavery in Northern Ireland and Scotland, the law in England and Wales currently does not give victims a right to support.*
The Government provides these victims with a limited period of care on a non-statutory basis while the authorities decide if the person is a victim, but then the support ends. Although some victims are entitled to further help, the vast majority (and this is true of victims across the UK) are left to fend for themselves, often at risk of homelessness and vulnerable to being re-trafficked.
The Government has said it wants to lead the world in efforts to address modern slavery. This work needs to start with putting victims first and guaranteeing their rights to support.
Lord McColl of Dulwich has brought forward a Bill in the House of Lords to put this right. His Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill will give victims in England and Wales* a guaranteed right to support during the initial period when the decision about the status is being made, and for a further 12 months afterwards.
The Bill completed its passage through the House of Lords with support the support of Peers from all parties and without amendment. It had its First Reading in the House of Commons on 17th May 2018 sponsored by Frank Field MP. However the Government has not yet agreed to support the Bill.
It is very important that the Government hears from as many people as possible asking them to support the Bill. Please click here to contact your MP today.
Tackling modern slavery must start with supporting victims to live free for good.
*Scotland and Northern Ireland have different laws. As a result Lord McColl’s Bill only applies in England and Wales although it will open the door to further positive changes in Scotland and Northern Ireland, see here.
SPONSORS OF THE BILL
Lord McColl of Dulwich is a Conservative member of the House of Lords. For more than a decade he has been raising issues of modern slavery and human trafficking in the House of Lords, pushing for greater protections and support for victims, including during development of the Modern Slavery Act 2015
Iain Duncan Smith MP
Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith took over sponsoring the Bill in the House of Commons in November 2018. Iain Duncan Smith was leader of the Conservative Party from 2001-2003. He set up the independent think tank the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) in 2003 following his period as leader and serves as its chairman. In 2013 the CSJ published a landmark report on modern slavery called ‘It happens here’ and was instrumental in the development of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
OTHER REASONS WHY WE NEED THE BILL