Thank you to those who have contacted me about immigration, detention and modern slavery victims.
I entirely understand the concerns about the treatment of modern slavery victims.
The UK is a world leader in the fight against modern slavery.
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 has helped tackle the criminals behind this abhorrent crime.
The Act has played a key role in transforming the UK’s response to modern slavery on a national and international level. It provides police and law enforcement agencies with the necessary powers and enhances protections for victims.
In addition to the human cost of this crime, Home Office research highlights the devastating economic and social costs of modern slavery. It costs the UK up to £4.3 billion a year and each modern slavery crime is second only to murder in terms of harm to its victims and society.
The Modern Slavery Act must therefore be as effective as possible and the Government commissioned an independent review of the act. The Government accepted the majority of the review’s recommendations and further information on this can be found at:
The Government also established the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) to identify and refer potential victims of modern slavery and ensure they receive appropriate support.
The Government also ran a public consultation on proposals to enhance transparency, increase compliance and expand the law to cover the public sector. The legislation requires businesses to publish statements outlining what action they are taking to tackle modern slavery and forced labour in their supply chains in the UK and overseas.
The Government has said it will introduce measures to strengthen the legislation including:
- extending the reporting requirement to public bodies with a budget of £36m or more;
- mandating the specific topics that reporting must cover;
- requiring statements to be published on the new Government digital reporting service;
- setting a single reporting deadline and taking forwards options for penalties for non-compliance in line with the ongoing development of the Single Enforcement Body for employment rights.
These measures require legislative change and will therefore be debated in Parliament.
Although the Government works hard to enforce the law for victims and survivors, I do not believe it is necessary to create a blanket policy of granting leave to remain for victims. It would not be helpful for reducing the frequency of this crime and would not limit its economic impact.
Such a policy would instead create an incentive for people to make false trafficking claims to obtain privileges in the UK fraudulently. This would, in turn, have the effect of putting at risk the support currently available for those who genuinely need help.
Unfortunately, some illegal migrants and Foreign National Offenders do take advantage of the system and seek these referrals in order to avoid immigration detention, frustrating their removal from the UK. This is why I support a thorough system in order to determine if a case is genuine.
The Home Office has published its New Plan for Immigration which sets out landmark measures to support the victims of modern slavery.
A key element of this Plan is to ensure that these victims have the support they need to engage in the criminal justice system to ensure the perpetrators are rightly prosecuted. Ministers are establishing an enhanced needs-based assessment, including private counselling and mental health support where appropriate.
I hope this answers any questions on this topic.