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.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvSpoiler alert: It has been talked about for months
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington
tv
Voices
Almost one in 10 of British soliders fall victim to serious psychiatric side-effects after being prescribed Lariam.
CHRISTMAS APPEALThis is how one charity is using that 'waste' to feed Britain's war heroes
Life and Style
Facebook has apologised after a new feature inviting users to review a collection of their 2014 highlights caused some to be confronted with pictures of their recently deceased family members and friends
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Recruitment Genius: Junior Property Manager

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Junior Property Manager in a yo...

Recruitment Genius: Web Development Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Service and Installation Engineer

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: SEO / Outreach Executive

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a global marketin...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?