UK signs trafficking directive after 10-month delay

Victory for IoS campaign as David Cameron finally accepts EU measure to tackle modern-day slavery

David Cameron pledged last night to make Britain a "world leader" in the fight against human trafficking as he confirmed that the Government would join Europe-wide measures to combat the crime after a five-month campaign by
The Independent on Sunday.

Last week Anti-Slavery International and the campaigning website 38 Degrees delivered a petition, organised in conjunction with this newspaper and bearing more than 46,000 signatures, to No 10 Downing Street demanding that the Government opt in to an EU directive aimed at tackling the criminal gangs behind the trade.

The coalition announced its U-turn on the issue in Parliament on Tuesday after the Prime Minister had faced criticism over the fact that only Britain and Denmark had failed to signed up to the measures.

"Fighting human trafficking is a priority for this government," Mr Cameron said. "This move will send a powerful message to traffickers that the UK is not a soft touch, and that we are supportive of international efforts to tackle this crime.

"We are and will continue to be world leaders in tackling this terrible crime and ensuring victims are protected."

The directive will extend Britain's power to prosecute UK nationals who commit trafficking offences anywhere in the world, as well as binding Britain to providing better protection for victims.

Welcoming the move, Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said: "Thanks in no small part to the campaigning work of The Independent on Sunday, the Government has finally signed the directive on human trafficking. It shows persistent campaigning can get results and, for the sake of those still enduring modern-day slavery, we mustn't stop here.

"Sadly, it is a sign of the times that ministers chose to shuffle out the decision without a press release or proper announcement as if they were ashamed of it.

"The Government should be embarrassed, not because it has dared to sign an EU document, but because it took 10 months to do it and [the UK] was one of the last countries to sign up."

Government officials said the delay in opting in to the directive had been because ministers had wanted to wait for it to be finalised before making a decision. Campaigners were sceptical. Christine Beddoe, director of End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking UK, said: "We welcome the fact that David Cameron has made this commitment to the protection of victims of trafficking. What we don't understand is why it took 46,000 people to bang on their door before the Government took this sensible step forward.

"We hope this means that plans to implement guardianship for trafficked children will be brought forward, as this is central to the child-protection measures embedded in the directive."

Dr Aidan McQuade, director of Anti-Slavery International, said: "The Government should be congratulated for making the right decision in opting in to the directive.

"It represents a commitment to ensure trafficking is not tolerated in the UK and a recognition of the urgent need for a strengthened response across Europe to combat this horrendous crime.

"We hope that the concerns of the 46,000 people who signed the petition are taken into account as the Government prepares its trafficking strategy, which must ensure better identification and protection of victims."

Suggested Topics
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape