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The Home Office has confirmed various changes to the Slavery Bill which is due to be published on Monday  

It will increase the maximum custodial sentence for offenders from 14 years to life and also contains provisions to give automatic life sentences to offenders who already have convictions for very serious sexual or violent offences.

Home Secretary Theresa May commented: “The number of referrals has been increasing and it is on that basis that we believe we have seen an increase in this absolutely horrendous and appalling crime.

“One of the purposes of bringing the bill forward is to ensure that we can enhance our ability to deal with the slave-drivers and therefore reduce the prospect of people being victims in the future.

“I recognise that there is a problem in terms of the very small number of prosecutions for trafficking or slavery offences that we have had. One of the things the bill does is consolidate this structure and introduce longer sentences.”

It is hoped that the number of prosecutions will increase following the implementation of the modern bill. According to Labour MP Frank Field, there are an estimated 10,000 victims of slavery in the UK. He argues that prosecutions will only increase when the government takes steps to ensure that victims feel safe to come forward. He recommends enshrining victim support, protections and entitlements in law in order to achieve this.

Ben Cooley, founder of human trafficking charity ‘Hope for Justice’ has shown his support for the changes.

“We’ve learned 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 what happens in the UK and Hope for Justice exists to stand in those gaps,” he said.

“This bill is a critical step towards ending slavery and 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 after-care provision just to be re-trafficked.”

 

Sources

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-25389760

http://www.theguardian.com/law/2013/dec/16/modern-slavery-bill-published-human-traffickers

http://www.channel4.com/news/modern-slavery-bill-published-trafficking-theresa-may

 

 

 

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