THE CHRISTIAN charity CARE is asking people to contact their local MP to support the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill.
The private member’s bill sponsored by Lord McColl of Dulwich, a Conservative member of the House of Lords, is also being supported by the Co-op Group, which is already monitoring its supply chains overseas and working with charities to offer work placements to survivors in the UK.
Supporters of the Bill are urging MPs to put pressure on the government to give the Bill time to be debated in parliament.
Labour MP Frank Field will be sponsoring the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill when it reaches the House of Commons. Frank Field is chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee which in April 2017 called for victims of modern slavery to be granted one year’s leave to remain with access to support.
Current law in England and Wales gives victims formally identified as a victim of modern slavery 14 days of support. The Bill would provide up to 12 months of support.
Currently the Bill is in the House of Lords after passing its Second Reading in early September. It needs the Government to give it a timeslot to be debated in the House of Lords before it can pass to the next stage.
Since the Second Reading of the Bill the Government has announced plans to offer 45 days of support to victims to help their recovery once it is confirmed by the National Referral Mechanism that they have been trafficked.
The campaign, Free for Good, made up of leading anti-trafficking charities and businesses, recognises the urgency of the Bill and has set up a website – freeforgood.org.uk – making it easy for people to lobby their MP about the Bill.
CARE Senior Policy Officer for Human Trafficking, Louise Gleich, said that the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill gives dignity back to victims who have been rescued out of slavery.
“The Government should rethink its offer of 45 days of support for recognised victims of modern slavery and get behind the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill instead. By doing so they would help end the current injustice of slavery victims who fall back into the grasps of exploitation precisely because of the lack of support currently available to them,” she said.
Gleich said the Bill ensures that victims are protected after their rescue, and do not end up being further exploited.
“There’s no point in rescuing victims of slavery if gaps in our support system mean victims end up back in the hands of their traffickers,” she added.