Modern Slavery Bill

Written evidence submitted by Restore (MS 15)

I write on behalf of Restore, a Christian organisation committed to the rehabilitation of adults who have been rescued or escaped from the trap of slavery. Restore is Rebuilding the Life Intended, by providing a safe place where women can get the respect and dignity that every person deserves, receive practical help to build the strong foundations in our society that every person needs, and provide much needed hope that no matter what traumatic experiences they’ve had they can enjoy a fulfilled life free from fear, which is the type of life that every person is worth.

I read with interest the recent Hansard debate from Parliament on the above Bill, in particular the points submitted by Fiona Mactaggart, member for Slough MP and co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on human trafficking (Column 187) and Mel Stride (Central Devon) (Con.) (Column 191).

I would now like to submit the following on behalf of Restore for consideration by the Public Bill Committee:

1. As already stated by the esteemed members of Parliament, there is a lack of provision for victim protection in the current Bill. As an organisation dealing first-hand with the trauma of victims it is essential that the victim is assured of their safety. For example, change of name (which can be a protracted process). Understandably there are issues of security, however once status has been identified, we feel it is imperative for a speedy process of anonymity to be created to work towards recovery and trauma rehabilitation. Additionally, where the victim is seeking reintegration into work, the necessity of name change would speed the process of return to work and society.

2. Would there be provision for adult advocates in the Bill? Again Restore has encountered difficulties in maintaining the victim’s anonymity via the Electoral Roll. I’m sure the Public Committee would agree, it is imperative to maintain the victim’s security, therefore, this raises again the question of victim protection, and all that entails to ensure the victim is not traced and brought under this cruel duress again. Our current experience is that our client came to us, requiring a change of identity, necessitated for her safety and protection. Restore believe this is an issue that should be addressed as soon as the victim is rescued.

3. Restore agree that Part 3 of the Bill would establish (and we believe and hope, would maintain independent status – where national security is not an issue) of a new Anti-Slavery Commissioner, to encourage good practice on the prevention of modern slavery offences and the identification of victims.

4. Restore strongly support a new statutory defence for slavery or trafficking victims compelled to commit criminal offences, and provision for new child trafficking advocates.

5. Restore strongly support both the provision of a compensation order for victims making it easier for them to claim compensation as well as the introduction of a new slavery and trafficking reparation order, under which the court will be able to order a person convicted of a clause 1, 2 or 4 offence to make financial reparation to his victim(s). Given that victims do not receive any benefits for their servitude; are denied basic rights of time off and money to spend, it seems entirely appropriate that compensation is awarded.

August 2014

Prepared 2nd September 2014