Conservatives propose new anti-slavery bill to combat human trafficking

Who says the Conservatives are heartless?

MP Peter Bone (Wellingborough, Northamptonshire) has proposed a new anti-slavery bill to address the pervasive problem of human trafficking in Britain, involving exploiters and victims from all over the world.

The bill contains

a more determined approach to the criminal industry to be adopted by the government …

Trafficking takes on several forms including forced labour (for example in the fishing industry, fast food production, agriculture and car washes), sexual exploitation and domestic servitude. Bonded labour happens when the victim is forced to take out a ‘loan’ from those exploiting them supposedly covering ‘administration fees’ and travel costs. Such victims are told they will not be free until this is paid off; the reality being they will never be free.

Much of the news we receive about this involves women enslaved as servants or prostitutes.

The London segment of Sunday Politics (BBC) on October 13, 2013, opened with an interview of an African woman who went to the police saying that her employer had taken her passport, beat her and forced her to work as a servant all hours of the day. The police told her it was nothing to do with them, she said — it was an ’employment’ issue. Eventually, the woman got help and her freedom from a local organisation, although she was interviewed in silhouette.

The Mail, among other papers, recently reported on the shadowy background of some high street nail bars. Vietnamese girls work as nail technicians during the day and as prostitutes or cannabis growers at night.

Incidentally, if you wonder about the connection between the Vietnamese and nail bars, the Mail says that actress Tippi Hedren (The Birds) visited a Vietnamese refugee camp in the United States decades ago. The ladies admired her beautiful nails, so she arranged for her manicurist to train them. From there, nail bars began to spring up in California then around the country as well as Vietnam — and the world.

However, trafficking also affects male victims. The London edition of Sunday Politics featured Andrew Boff, a Conservative GLA member, who has helped to investigate the trafficking situation in London. He said that he was amazed to find so many boys and young men among the victims. He said that he was also shocked to find that they were eager to make the most money in the shortest amount of time which, according to Boff, involved ‘opportunism’ and a high degree of ‘risk’.

Boff didn’t elaborate on what exactly they do, but France has had problems with theft committed by trafficked boys from Eastern Europe who work for a local gangmaster. He, in turn, receives instructions from a Mr Big back in his home country.

In response to Boff’s ‘A Report on Human Trafficking in closed networks in London’, co-authored by other GLA Tories, the Metropolitan Police say they have been actively investigating and prosecuting traffickers thanks to their Human Trafficking Unit (HTU) launched in 2010.

Human trafficking is not just a London problem. In 2011, The Guardian, among other media outlets, reported on a case involving men in Birmingham and Luton. Megan Stewart, who runs Thames Reach, an organisation which attempts to free victims of trafficking and return them to their home countries told the paper:

In March we helped two Czech men who had been held against their will in a flat in Birmingham for two years. They were taken every day to a factory in Luton and had to work from seven in the morning to seven in the evening. If they argued with their captors, they endured horrendous beatings. One of them was handcuffed to a radiator; another was burnt with a pipe on his torso when he asked to send some money home.

Most recently, on October 15, 2013, Yahoo UK carried a Sky News report about a raid on nine brothels in Birmingham. Five ‘sex slaves’ were freed as a result.

Some of the comments following that article mentioned car washes and the men working there. Readers ask that they, too, be investigated. Here’s one:

Ok, that’s the brothels done, now the car washes. There are a heap of them around our way and not a British worker in any of them. In fact every tongue you would expect beyond the former Iron Curtain and all lashed into obedience by gangmasters, that would not have looked out of place in the Treblinka concentration camp and not one of them paying a morsel of tax or on the minimum wage, or on Theresa May’s radar either I would have thought. Good[,] start now [–] the car washes!

It is thought that Britain is fruitful for traffickers because we are seen to be lenient in that regard.

Let’s hope that Peter Bone’s bill becomes legislation and that continued raids result in prison sentences and deportation (if that’s possible) for the perpetrators.

8 comments for “Conservatives propose new anti-slavery bill to combat human trafficking

  1. October 18, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    The issue, I think, is not the good things Cameron does but all the bad.

    • October 19, 2013 at 12:12 am

      I doubt many people know of this initiative, led by the Conservative GLA.

      When holiday drinks or family gatherings come round — then the 2015 elections — this is one to remember for Labourites.

      It was interesting that the Labour MEP for London on the show said, ‘Don’t forget women in this’ (paraphrased but summarised), Andrew Boff emphasised that many men were also victims — an important point.

      Labourites would say, ‘Well, they would have thought of men’ but it is also important that this condition be portrayed as pertinent to neither men nor women but both.

  2. Errol
    October 18, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    Controlling our borders – shutting them – requires our leaving the EU. David Cameron won’t permit or even countenance that, so quite simply, we either put up, or shut up and let these people in, put up with the gang masters, the crime, the prostitution and anything else that effective governance would normally protect citizens from.

    All the while the police are under resourced, energy becomes ever more expensive, the state continues to grow exponentially and the country devolves into the toilet.

    Dave obviously wants this as otherwise he’d be actively doing something about it, wouldn’t he?

    • October 20, 2013 at 6:19 am

      Errol, the police are NOT ‘under resourced’!

      Not when they can close down streets for hours at a time for a hoax bomb threat or send two officers round to tell someone their Hallowe’en decorations are too scary…

  3. Brian, follower of Deornoth
    October 19, 2013 at 8:42 am

    “…had taken her passport, beat her and forced her to work as a servant all hours of the day. The police told her it was nothing to do with them…”

    The modern police service in action…

    • October 20, 2013 at 6:17 am

      Well, quite! That’s theft, assault and false imprisonment. What’s needed is not new legislation, it almost NEVER is.

      What’s needed is to force the police to use the legislation they already have.

  4. MachIII
    October 19, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    I implore you to consider the wider view of the trafficking issue, as it is being presented.

    Those who find themselves in indentured servitude deserve a degree of protection by the state. This has been so for hundreds of yours, in this country.

    Those who find themselves in fear of injury by others also deserve a degree protection by the police. This must include persons who have entered, or stayed in the UK illegally.

    It does not follow that, because many different beliefs, religious, progressive our otherwise, disapprove of prostitution or sex work that women cannot willingly choose to make a living that way.

    Similarly, if fit and healthy young men, with the support of their families, and using their ingenuity, as well as paid assistance by agents, get to the UK and maintain themselves and send money home doing hard, manual work at one location, it does not follow that they are not working as a matter of choice.

    And, underneath this, it should not follow, without more, that they should be allowed to settle in the UK, as victims of years of being forced to do something different to what they wanted.

    • October 20, 2013 at 9:48 pm

      Re the men in the Guardian story (emphasis mine):

      ‘If they argued with their captors, they endured horrendous beatings. One of them was handcuffed to a radiator; another was burnt with a pipe on his torso when he asked to send some money home.’

      This story was also covered in other news outlets. One man was so traumatised, medical and social workers said they thought he had the sort of shock that happened only to soldiers serving on the front line.

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