Minutes of a Private Meeting between the NGOs Advisory Forum and Members of the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill
24th March 2014, Mermaid Theatre at mid-day
Members of the JSC: Lord McColl, Baroness
The Chairman invited Members of the Committee to up-date on progress of the Select Committee’s work. He stressed the importance of the new Bill being victim centred. He invited Members of the Select Committee to give their views as to the current situation, with the two Joint-Chairmen of the All Party Parliamentary Group, Fiona Mactaggart MP and Baroness Butler-Sloss.
The Committee worked as a cross-party alliance for purpose of Bill. There is pressure to keep the Bill short to fit in with short Parliamentary session and movement through Lords. Committee’s Report (launched April 8th 2014) should focus on what is needed for good legislation, and something which can provide foundation for later legislation.
Home Office Minister, Karen Bradley MP (gave evidence to Committee on 12th March) – stated that language of the offences in the Bill needs simplification and clarification; an umbrella offence for exploitation.
Re supply chains – need to find an effective measure that can be used in Bill. Evidence taken from companies was positive. Companies would welcome a measure that creates a level playing field. But needs teeth - not just a tick box.
Concerted effort to make lobbying united so as not to kill the Bill in the Lords. Anthony Steen offered advice to all present re steer on areas of amendment for Bill after the Queen’s Speech.
Concern - over/under emphasis on forced labour. Guidance needs to be clearer (especially on forced labour, e.g.
GLA limited remit - should be extended and needs more resources (which have been cut in recent years).
Queen’s Speech - bids from Departments being fought over at present - issue of Coalition government. But, there is genuine attempt to have something solid on the Modern Slavery Bill.
Concern over absence of mention of prostitution.
Hard to get public to understand extent and scale of slavery. The
How to get victims back into work - apprenticeship schemes etc. After or within 45 day period - what is the protection of RLC with these schemes with regards to companies engaging with; will there be anything in Bill? Issue over work permits.
After 45 days, often refer to Snowdrop project. For men – recently opened drop-in centre and integration support programmes post-45 days which is linked up with recruitment and training agency, and has already seen signs of success.
Take female referrals after leaving shelter from City Hearts and Ashiana (6 months to 2 years - 18 women at the moment). Group of professionally trained volunteers assist survivors with housing issues, benefits, jobs, training etc.
There are a number of after-care projects, including City Hearts, Snowdrop, Medaille. When victims leave TSA shelters data on where they go is collected, however it is difficult to keep contact in the long run. It would be good to see something built in to legislation to make it systematic and help ensure monitoring of victims post-45 days.
Committee did pose tough questions on post-45 days; the issue has been considered. However, (
RE children - Holding pattern of immigration system. Decision on victim’s future on hold until turn 18 years old. 6 month best interest determination for child (whether they remain in
HERA, in conjunction with
Provide move-on accommodation in
Agreed that getting the issues of definitions right is crucial, as well as implementation of existing definitions. Lack of cross-border partnership between NGOs remains an issue. Don’t need to replicate models, these processes already exist - just need officials able to maintain partnerships.
The role of the Commissioner will be to make sure implementation works. Dutch/Finnish rapporteurs - trust and partnership between Commissioner and NGOs - delivers best ‘service’ for victims.
Human Rights Watch due to publish report on abuse of domestic workers in
Sir John Randall MP
Problem of domestic worker visas recognised. Has been discussed with Ministers. Work in progress.
Can legislation do anything to put mandatory training for frontline officials?
There needs to be a model for training on this issue in order to make prosecution more effective. Look at magistrates training model (domestic abuse). Government wants to work with NGOs to help educate public as well.
Work in schools. If contact schools with backing of MPs, Ministers, government - makes reception of school administration smoother.
Raising awareness with frontline practitioners, both adult and children services. There is a need for statutory guidelines for frontline practitioners and funding.
Need somebody in each local area to take responsibility. Perhaps in Bill - need mandatory awareness in schools. Police need training very important.
In our experience, theatre performance is both a successful means of rehabilitation and also awareness raising. Training for victims to become mentors for other victims (if want to); theatre and education (involving those who have actually experienced).
Education for younger generations is important; issue should be included in citizenship classes at schools and Women’s Institute etc.
Medaille trust has opened a new home in
Sexual exploitation of women and children - awareness raising through national network. Low-key mention of sexual exploitation in draft Bill - currently police prosecute traffickers for sexual exploitation through prostitution laws. Statistics on human trafficking therefore exclude these figures. Will Bill include and encapsulate issue of sexual exploitation?
[Quoted a section from existing draft Bill] – definition not clear. Hope to encourage recasting of way in which sexual exploitation described. Definition of exploitation in Bill - most important.
Will the Bill include an element of compensation for forced labour victims (wages owed in hindsight). Currently there are significant barriers to access compensation. GLA - repayments orders have not got anywhere (government does not want to impose penalties on SMEs).
Thanked everyone for attending, members of the Select Committee and its Clerks.
Meeting ended at 2pm.