The government has published its human trafficking bill, reflecting its desire to ‘lead the global fight against modern slavery’.
Features of the legislation include an increase of the maximum sentence from 14 years to life, the introduction of slavery and trafficking risk and prevention orders, as well as the closing of loopholes which currently prevent the UK’s Border Force acting if human trafficking is suspected on board a vessel at sea.
The consolidation of existing offenses into one act is also aimed at providing ‘clarity and focus and making the law easier to apply’.
Home Secretary Theresa May said: “Modern slavery is an appalling crime that has no place in today’s society. It is an affront not just to the dignity and humanity of the people crushed by it but to every one of us.
“To stand the best chance of becoming law by the end of this Parliament, the Bill needs to be as clear and tightly focused as possible. But it will be an important start that future governments will be able to build on.”
She continued: “It will send the strongest possible signal to criminals that if you are involved in this disgusting trade you will be arrested, you will be prosecuted and you will be locked up. And it will say to victims, you are not alone and we are here to help you.”
The legislation will also create a statutory defence for victims who are compelled to commit crime having been trafficked, as well as giving courts new powers to order traffickers to pay reparations.