TOUGHER sanctions against traffickers are to be unveiled by Ministers as part of efforts to tackle modern-day slavery in Britain.
Home Secretary Theresa May said a new law would be introduced during this session of parliament and tackling trafficking would be one of the “highest priorities” for the new National Crime Agency, which will take over from the Serious and Organised Crime Agency from October.
Writing in a Sunday newspaper, she insisted it was “scarcely believable” the problem still existed in the UK and added the priority must be, whether the victims were British or from overseas, to “free them” by increasing the numbers of “modern-day slave drivers we convict and imprison”.
Since the deaths of 23 Chinese cockle-pickers in Morecambe Bay in 2005, all gangmasters – who supply large numbers of workers for agriculture or other labour-intensive activities – have been required to be members of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA).
Mrs May said the Government’s Modern Slavery Bill would create trafficking prevention orders, barring anyone convicted of a trafficking offence from gaining GLA membership.
They could also face restrictions on their ability to own a company, visit certain places or work with children or young women.
A modern slavery commissioner will also be appointed to hold oversee enforcement.
Mrs May added: “No man, woman or child should be left to suffer through modern slavery.”
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “Stronger action against traffickers is welcome. But the proposals also need to include stronger action and enforcement against gangmasters and employers, and more support for trafficked victims, especially children and young people.”
She added: This legislation is an important opportunity that must not be missed.”