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A CSJ report cites government apathy and lack of awareness among authorities as hurdles in tackling human trafficking

Date: (12 March 2013)    |    

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In a most comprehensive inquiry conducted by the Centre of Social Justice (CSJ) published on Monday about human trafficking the report stated that political indifference and ignorance alongside a leadership vacuum in Whitehall had meant that the country which had led the fight against slavery in the 19th century was now was a “shameful shadow” of its former self as the evil practice had made a comeback in a contemporary form.

The report castigated the government ministers clueless’ in their response to tackling human trafficking both into and within the UK. It said the policy to eradicate the practice of slavery was basically wrong headed. Instead of helping vulnerable victims who are trapped into forms of slavery after being trafficked from overseas, the legal system prosecutes many for immigration offences.

The report said Britain’s reputation in this regard could be restored if it put in place certain recommendations including the appointment of an independent anti slavery commissioner to ensure proper political focus and new legislation to better protect victims. The inquiry outlined 80 recommendations in total.

The inquiry found a shocking lack of awareness of the problem among frontline officials who were supposed to identify and help trafficked victims. There were unacceptable levels of ignorance and misidentification of victims among the police, social services, the UKBA, the judicial system and other said the report.
Very few social workers were really equipped to identify victims of modern slavery and having the knowledge about what was national referral mechanism, the governmental system which identifies and protects suspected trafficking victims.
It was the same case with the police it said, the officers were often found choosing to arrest trafficking victims instead of protecting them. There was no incentive to investigate human trafficking cases than there was for a shed burglar a detective inspector had admitted.
Entitled It Happens Here, the CSJ study collated evidence of exploitation of foreign adults and children as well as British citizens, in factories, fields, construction sites, brothels and houses. It identified more than 1,000 cases, but cautioned that official figures remain "a pale reflection of the true size of the problem". Christian Guy, managing director of the centre, said it was appalling that many of those who fall into modern-day slavery were themselves considered criminals.
Even when rescued from their abusers, the report lamented that the state regularly failed to keep victims safe. The centre cites figures that 60% of children placed in local authority care and believed to have been trafficked then go missing – often because they are so terrified of their traffickers that they take the first opportunity to go back.
The CSJ study calls on parliament to pass new anti-slavery legislation aimed at requiring companies with turnovers above £100m a year to publicly disclose the efforts they are making to ensure that their supply and product chains and business practices are free from modern slavery. Similar legislation is in force in California, where it has proved successful in cutting abuse.