The topic of human trafficking and modern-day slavery is an issue that is always guaranteed to provoke emotion in people. Some official sources are claiming that there has been up to a 300 per cent rise in human trafficking numbers from certain countries (Albania, Lithuania, Romania, Vietnam, etc.) in just two years.
This really is an abhorrent side to modern-day life. Despite the fact that slavery should have been fully abolished back in the 19th century, an alarmingly large number of criminals are making vast sums of money out of trafficking humans around the world.
Often, the unwitting individuals are promised a far better way of life in the West or they may be beholden to the criminal group by what is known as a debt bond. They will be informed of the fact that they have to work this debt off upon arrival in the United Kingdom; however, they won’t be told how long it will take and what type of work is involved in order to clear the money over their heads.
This leads to thousands of individuals being forced to work in the sex industry, in begging gangs, on cannabis farms or in the construction industry and even being shipped over for mass benefit fraud. The criminals in charge of them will always find new ways to keep them working for them – often they are slaves for the rest of their lives.
In the past, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service would have had to turn to legislation such as The Offences Against the Person Act 1861 in order to bring such criminals to book. They would be charged for crimes such as (s.18 OAPA) grievous bodily harm rather than there being any specific laws in place to deal with such a modern-day criminal act.
The Home Secretary, Theresa May, thank goodness, has now seen sense and at long last is proposing new legislation to tackle the specific crime of modern-day slavery. This move has been welcomed by local authorities, the police and the C.P.S., as they all recognise the fact that it will be much easier to bring such gangs to justice in the future and charge them with the exact crimes they have committed. What’s more, this new legislation may actually mean that the maximum sentence available for such criminals could be up to life imprisonment for human trafficking.
When there are known to be literally thousands of people suffering in worse misery than we could ever imagine, in a country that we are proud to think is one of the most tolerant and civilised in the whole world, how has this type of crime been permitted to reach the level it has attained? Why hasn’t something been done about tackling this heinous crime much sooner – before up to 300 per cent increases in numbers were ever allowed to come to pass?
These are questions the current and previous administrations of this country will have to ask themselves. In the meantime, it is imperative that this Bill should pass through both Houses of Parliament as soon as possible; if anything can be done to eradicate this modern-day pestilence in our society, it needs to be done without further delay.