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
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksNow available in paperback
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair