Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy has urged local people to stay alert to cases of modern slavery.
His call comes two years after the Modern Slavery Act 2015 received Royal Assent, and 210 years since the passing of the Slave Trade Act 1807.
The Modern Slavery Act is the first of its kind in Europe, and one of the first in the world, to specifically address slavery and trafficking in the 21st century. The legislation significantly enhances support and protection for victims, gives law enforcement the tools they need to target today’s slave drivers, ensures perpetrators can be severely punished, and includes a world leading provision to encourage business to take action to ensure their end-to-end supply chains are transparent and slavery free.
The Prime Minister has made tackling Modern Slavery a priority and now chairs a Taskforce on modern slavery, hosting regular meetings at Downing Street with relevant departments to coordinate the UK fight. In addition the Home Secretary recently announced £8.5 million funding to police to boost their response to the crime and a further £33.5 million has been committed by the Government to address the root causes of modern slavery overseas.
Since the Act received Royal Assent, statutory agencies have stepped up anti-slavery efforts. Combating the crime has been made a high priority threat for the UK’s National Crime Agency; UK police have begun conducting more investigations across the country; and the Work and Pensions Select Committee is carrying out an inquiry into access to welfare benefits for all victims of modern slavery.
In 2014 the Home Office estimated that there were between 10,000 – 13,000 potential victims of modern slavery in the UK. The fight against slavery requires the resources and efforts of many different actors and organisations; this trade in human misery is taking place in cities, towns and rural communities across the nation on a shameful scale.
Commenting Jeremy said: “I am proud that the UK is leading the world in efforts to tackle the scourge of modern slavery – a crime that the UK Prime Minister has called ‘the great human rights issue of our time’.
“In the last two years, there have been many successes and numerous challenges. Many more victims have entered the National Referral Mechanism, the UK’s system of support for victims of modern slavery. Numbers have risen from 2340 in 2014 to 3805 in 2016. In addition, more criminals are being prosecuted and convicted.
“However it is important that we are not complacent and continue to crack down on modern slavery in all its forms. Two years on since the passing of the Modern Slavery Act, we can no longer make an excuse that this is something new to implement. We need to make sure that the tools it has provided are being used to their full potential.”