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Anti-slavery Tsar: 'Nationality and Borders Bill threatens modern slavery victims'

Human Trafficking
8 November 2021
PA Trafficking 0 2a

The UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner has hit out at government immigration proposals that could frustrate efforts to help modern slavery victims.

Dame Sara Thornton warns that certain provisions in the Nationality and Borders Bill, introduced by Home Secretary Priti Patel earlier this year, could prevent victims receiving proper support.

In an article for Times Redbox, Dame Sara argues that although some clause in the bill “helpfully place support for victims of slavery in statute”, proposed “Trafficking Information Notices” served on potential victims could make it “harder to identify those who have been exploited”.

The Commissioner also criticised Clause 51 of the bill, which aims to disqualify potential victims of modern slavery who have a criminal record from state protection.

According to Dame Sara, this sends a message that some victims are more deserving of support than others. And it risks undermining the criminal justice system by denying victims the protection and confidence they need to feel safe giving up information that could lead to arrests.

Urging more careful consideration of the modern slavery provisions in the bill, the Commissioner added: “We are quite rightly proud of our Modern Slavery Act which was genuinely ground-breaking in 2015. Let’s not rush through legislation which could undermine both the identification of victims and the prosecution of offenders – both key features of that act.”

CARE has also warned that certain aspects of the Nationality and Borders Bill could have a detrimental impact on confirmed victims of modern slavery across the UK.

Our briefing on the legislation highlights six specific problems with the proposals including potential disbenefits for victims seeking asylum in the UK, limiting the number of victims eligible for state help, and cutting the level of support available.

Read the briefing here.

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