The co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Human Trafficking, Peter Bone MP, branded the existence of modern-day slavery in the UK as a national disgrace and appealed to consuls to work with the UK government to build a global network to eradicate it.
Speaking at the Consular Corps monthly luncheon he told consuls that there were an estimated 10,000 women working as forced prostitutes in the UK, in addition to men, women and children working in slave-like conditions. However, he said efforts to tackle this crime were “going backwards” due to budgetary pressure and the dismantling of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).
Mr Bone said his APPG was lobbying strongly for the UK Government to opt in to the EU Directive on Human Trafficking and is campaigning to redraft the law so that those who are trafficked are treated as victims of a crime and not as illegal migrants to be deported.
Echoing frustrations of consuls, he said in order to tackle the problem at source, criminal networks based in the UK needed to be prosecuted, but that often the UK Border Agency was too quick to deport the victims of trafficking before enough evidence could be gathered.
Mr Bone added that the UKBA was “not up to the task” of identifying fraudulent documents of potential victims of traffickers, both at the borders and in their countries of origin. However he added he hoped new biometric technology may improve their success rate.
Mr Bone also mentioned that his group was campaigning for a change to the work permit laws governing embassy domestic servants. Currently visas for diplomatic domestic servants are linked to an embassy and are non-transferrable which means domestic workers could be trapped with an abusive employer who is immune from prosecution. The APPG for Human Trafficking wants to enable diplomatic servants the option to switch employers.
Co-Chair of the All Party Group on Human Trafficking Peter Bone MP