In December 2013 the Modern Slavery Bill Evidence Review, chaired by Frank Field MP, released its report. It set out a blueprint for a new Act that will establish Britain, once again, as a world leader in the fight against modern slavery.
Commissioned by then-Home Secretary, Theresa May, to review the evidence base for a new Modern Slavery Bill, the Review Panel, which included, Baroness Butler-Sloss and Sir John Randall MP, spent two months consulting with NGOs, campaigners, frontline professionals, international experts and, most importantly, victims of modern slavery themselves, in order to build a set of evidenced recommendations to underpin the new clauses in the proposed Bill.
The Report set out in detail:
• The new clauses which are a prerequisite for a world class Bill, and
• The non-legislative policy changes which meet the Government’s requirement to deal comprehensively with this issue.
The Report argued for a new Bill that:
• Weighs the law in favour of the victim.
• Establishes legislation that is prosecution-friendly.
• Lays down up to life sentences for slave owners with aggravated sentences for rape.
• Seizes the assets of slave owners and traffickers, and ring-fences these funds for victims and police operations.
• Establishes a Commissioner who will act as the victims voice in government and beyond, drive through the government’s anti-slavery strategy, with the power to suggest further legal and policy changes.
The Report recommended that a number of issues be considered by the Joint Committee of Both Houses, which will scrutinise the draft legislation during the next stage of the Bill’s development. These are:
• A consideration of the best way of freeing the country’s supply chains from slave labour.
• A pilot guardianship scheme, whereby a trained adult would be tasked with looking after child victims ensuring they access the support available to them, and act in the child’s best interests.
• A review of the visa rules applicable to Overseas Domestic Workers to ensure exploited workers can more easily escape from oppressive employers.
• An extension of the remit of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority so that it is able to investigate incidents of modern slavery in other sectors.
Frank Field MP, Review Chair, said: “The report encourages the Government to make the most of the opportunity that it has created for itself. The Home Secretary by establishing this Review has shown that her Bill will be informed by our recommendations, and signals how serious her intent is. I urge her to ‘reach for the stars’ in creating a Bill which delivers all that ‘world leader status’ promises.”
Christian Guy, the Director of the Centre for Social Justice, said: “The CSJ is delighted to have been part of the Modern Slavery Bill Review process. This Bill presents an exciting opportunity to push forward the UK's response to this crime, which as we have seen in recent cases is very much present in the UK. Alongside wide-ranging policy reform, which is laid out in the report, this Bill has the potential to make a tangible difference not just in Britain, but across the world as other nations see our progress.”
Anthony Steen, Review Advisor and Human Trafficking Special Envoy for the Government, said: “We must put the welfare of victims first if we are to win the battle against modern-day slavery in Britain.”
The full report of the Modern Slavery Bill Evidence Review can be read here
You can read more about Frank's work on the Modern Slavery Bill at The Guardian
, The Daily Telegraph
, Sky News
, New York Times, Huffington Post UK
and ITV News