Government failing to bring Britain in line with European rules on human trafficking, say charities

 

The Government has failed to bring Britain in line with European laws on human trafficking, according to leading charities, who say victims of the crime are being left vulnerable to further abuse.

David Cameron announced that the UK would join Europe-wide measures to combat the crime two years ago, after a five-month campaign by The Independent on Sunday. Announcing the Government’s decision, he pledged to make Britain a “world leader” in tackling the crime.

But charities warn that with less than a month to go before the April 6 deadline for Britain to comply with the terms of the EU directive, it is failing victims in three major areas. Child victims are not assigned guardians, which could stop so many going missing from care and help them through the legal system; many trafficking victims still do not get protection during criminal proceedings; victims have little or no access to compensation and legal assistance, thanks to changes to legal aid and being barred from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.

Thousands of people are estimated to be trafficked into Britain every year. Some are forced to work in the sex trade, others as domestic servants or for manual labour.

In a joint letter to David Cameron and immigration minister Mark Harper MP, seen by the IoS, twelve leading charities have demanded the introduction of the “necessary legislation” so Britain can “lead the fight against slavery”. The signatories include campaigning charities as well as service providers, such as ECPAT UK, Stop the Traffik, William Wilberforce Trust and CARE.

Louise Gleich, human trafficking expert at the social policy charity CARE, said: “It is time that victims of labour exploitation shouldn’t have to give evidence in court face-to-face with the person who enslaved them and that all human trafficking victims should have meaningful access to compensation and legal assistance. It is time that trafficked children do not become lost in the system and suffer the tragedy of being re-trafficked because instead they are supported consistently by a specialist child trafficking guardian, throughout the entire processing of their case. The Government must not drag its feet where the protection of trafficking victims is concerned, having eventually opted into the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive it is imperative that we achieve fulsome compliance by the 6 April deadline.”

The Government’s continued failure to appoint child guardians is the most controversial of the three failures outlined by charities. Of 942 children rescued from trafficking between 2005 and 2010, 301 were then lost by the authorities, a statistic that the letter calls “a national disgrace”. Experts say that without the legal guardians required by the EU, hundreds will continue to go missing from care and return to the gangs that took them.

Bharti Patel, chief executive of children’s rights charity ECPAT UK, said: “The current provisions fall significantly short of what is needed to keep these vulnerable children safe and ensure their rights are upheld. Too many children are overlooked, not protected and don’t get the support that they desperately need as victims of abuse and exploitation. Trafficked children are usually alone in the UK with no one who has parental responsibility for them, to make decisions in their best interests and to champion their rights. Currently, they face complex and terrifying systems of welfare, immigration and law enforcement with no one to guide them through.”

Klara Skrivankova, trafficking programme coordinator at Anti-Slavery International, said: “Victims of trafficking are first and foremost victims of a serious crime, which is the second most lucrative criminal enterprise globally. Those brave enough to speak out against their trafficking risk their lives and those of their family. The government must ensure that they are adequately protected if they decide to partake in the criminal proceedings. Trafficking is a profitable business that yields the traffickers an estimated 32 billion dollars yearly from the exploitation of others. Victims of this crime are entitled to compensation for the losses and abuses they have suffered. Seizing traffickers’ assets and using them to compensate victims hits the traffickers where it hurts the most and also acts as a strong deterrent. Compensation for trafficked victims has not been a priority of the UK Government’s efforts so far, and this needs to be changed with the entry into force of the Directive.”

A government spokesman said: “Human trafficking is abhorrent and the UK government is committed to combating this crime in all its forms. We have already made significant progress in the fight against trafficking through the government’s Human Trafficking Strategy and will demonstrate compliance with the EU directive by 6 April 2013.”

Arts and Entertainment
arts + entsWith one of the best comic roles around, it's no wonder she rarely bothers with films
News
people
News
i100
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
News
i100
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
News
i100
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup