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Baroness Turner of Camden: I support Amendment No. 73 and I shall speak also to Amendment No. 74, with which it is grouped.

In my remarks at Second Reading, I raised the whole issue of trafficking, particularly the trafficking of women for the purposes of the sex industry. I am aware, of course, that there are various schemes in operation to care for the victims of this appalling development. As the Minister said earlier, years ago we had never heard of trafficking. It has developed in recent years, particularly in eastern Europe, and criminal gangs have emerged that are making fortunes through trafficking mostly very young women for the purposes of the sex industry.

As I said at Second Reading, from information supplied to me by the Refugee Children's Consortium, these women are really children; they are below age for the industry in which they are trafficked. In one case, a girl was sold by her father to traffickers. She managed to escape when she got to this country, but she was captured again and eventually retrafficked to Italy. That kind of repulsive activity is now quite widespread.

Every so often, we are told that a criminal gang has been arrested and its members imprisoned and we are all very glad about that. But I am very concerned about what happens to the people who have been trafficked. What happens to the victims? The amendments seek to deal with the issue. Clearly, the victims should not be deported back to the circumstances from which they came. They could be trafficked again, or they could be deported to a country where their community regards them as dishonoured and therefore they will not be looked after when they get back. They require rehabilitation, training and support in order to be able to rejoin a civilised society and to live reasonable lives.
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I hope these amendments can be written on to the face of the Bill to make the Government's position quite clear. We want to ensure that these young women are treated as victims and are looked after rather than simply deported.

The Earl of Sandwich: I support my noble friend's Amendment No. 74. He has already mentioned the Poppy Accommodation and Support Service run by Eaves Housing for Women, which is funded by the Home Office for the time being. I am grateful to my noble friend for stating that the Home Office will continue this project, but the support it has been given is belated. I know that other organisations are also involved, and I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say about the timetable.

It is as well to learn some of the history. During 2004 and 2005, the Poppy Project's 25 places were full for several months. In 2004, they turned away more than 30 women who otherwise met the criteria.

No other specialised accommodation is available to women—including, as the noble Baroness has just said, young women—trafficked into sexual exploitation, and no specialised services are available at all for men, women or children trafficked into labour exploitation.

Procedures for providing trafficked people with long-term protection do not seem to be working effectively. I understand that at the end of 2004 none of the trafficked people assisted by the Poppy Project who had been given a final decision were granted refugee status or humanitarian protection on their initial application, but six of the 11 who have had final decisions obtained protection on appeal.

There are also problems with the identification and referral system. For example, when a massage parlour was raided in Birmingham on 29 September last, the police arrested 19 women. Those with irregular status were sent to Yarl's Wood but two were later identified as trafficked people and admitted to the Poppy Project. Others with EU passports were released but they did not have access to any specialised assistance or advice.

Identification and referral mechanisms could be improved through training. I speak as a council member of Anti-Slavery International. ASI and the Police Academy in the Netherlands have developed a training manual for identification and assistance to trafficked persons. Does the Home Office have a copy of the ASI Protocol for Identification and Assistance to Trafficked Persons and Training Kit and does it think that it would be useful to circulate it in the UK as well?

I conclude by supporting my noble friend, but I also ask the Government whether they intend to sign the Council of Europe convention, which has been around for some time. It provides minimum safeguards for the protection of trafficked people and, as my noble friend said, it is supported by 24 other European states, including Germany, Holland, Italy and Belgium.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, for giving us another
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opportunity to debate this matter. He has very carefully developed the text of his amendment in various Bills as time has gone on, and so it becomes more and more difficult to object to what he puts forward. It is also perfect timing, not only because it is this Bill but also because this week the Government published their document entitled A Coordinated Prostitution Strategy. I want to ask the Government one or two questions that arose in my mind as a result of that before I turn to consider the exact drafting of the noble Lord's amendment.

The Government state—it may be more true to say "understate"—their case at Section 5.7 of the strategy:

As the noble Baroness said, some years ago it was something that one thought of as happening in other countries and not here. My experience and that of colleagues from this House who have attended meetings of the European Mediterranean women's Parliament is that there has been a dramatic—something like fourfold—increase certainly over the past six years but also over the past three. I agree with the Government that the harm to the individuals involved is considerable. The strategy goes on:

Given that that is the Government's position at Section 5.7 of the report, one then asks how the noble Baroness can possibly resist the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Hylton. It will be interesting to see.

The noble Lord referred to Project Reflex and the Poppy Project. Reflex is simply aimed at trying to detect the perpetrators. It does not do anything to assist those trafficked, except to get them out of the clutches of those people for the time being. He also referred to the Poppy Project and the possible continued—I hope that it will be "definitely" continued—funding.

As the JCWI points out, the people covered by Poppy are those who have been trafficked for the purposes of sexual crime. So far as I am aware, as yet there is nothing to assist those who have been trafficked for economic crime. It is to the Government's credit that they included those who are trafficked for economic crime in the definition of trafficking in the previous Bill. We welcomed that. Will the Minister not only answer the questions asked by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, and other Members of the Committee with regard to the lifespan of Poppy, its effectiveness and its continued funding, but also say what the Government's plans are to assist victims of economic trafficking as well? A similar system to Poppy might be set up to assist them.

4 pm

Another issue that I noted in Section 5 of the Government's report is that of victim care. The noble
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Earl mentioned what has happened to some of the people in Poppy. I notice that in paragraph 5.9 referring to Poppy, the Government stated that:

What kind of plans are the Government trying to put in place to extend that kind of assistance? Is the person allowed to remain only while the case is proceeding through the courts? What if a conviction is obtained, and is then appealed? Do the Government allow the witnesses to remain secure in this country pending the outcome of that appeal? I know that that person may institute a further appeal beyond the Court of Appeal to the House of Lords and that may take some time. I recognise that the Government may face difficulty in giving a blanket "Yes" answer because of the time involved, but this matter needs to be considered.

I now come back to the precise text of the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Hylton. He made a plea to the Minister to excise the words "pull factor" from her brief. Anybody looking at how one might protect people being trafficked has to consider whether there is a pull factor. If there is one—and I believe there is—how can we prevent it being exacerbated? If there is a pull factor, any exaggeration of it damages the people who have been trafficked in the past and who may be trafficked in future.

I know the noble Lord is trying to get a copper-bottomed guarantee that the innocent victims of trafficking will be protected and that there can be no encouragement to others. But the difficulty of trying to frame that provision is reflected in subsection (2) of Amendment No. 73 which states:

I understand what the noble Lord is getting at. It is the vile gangs whose sole business is to get people here. They will make huge amounts of money out of them and will represent to them that there is a much better life here or, if they are being brought here for sexual exploitation, they will say that they are coming here to work in a massage parlour, without saying that they will be locked up in a cellar when they get here and will be forced to do other duties too. The noble Lord is trying to get at those people.

He is also covering the situation where parents sell their children into what is, effectively, slavery, as the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, said. It is extraordinary to our way of thinking that parents are prepared to do that. Sometimes it is because they believe that it will be a better life for their child when he gets here, so perhaps the parents have been misled. But sadly, often, they are not. They see it as a way of getting money for themselves, and leave their children to the mercy of the traffickers. Indeed, the parents may be perfectly willing to benefit regardless of what happens.

I believe that the noble Lord, in trying his very best to achieve his objective, still leaves in subsection (2) a situation where there would be a pull factor. It would
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be disingenuous of me to believe that parents would not continue to traffic their children if that were in place. I think they would then see an even greater good for their children: the guarantee that once here, they would stay here. Sadly, therefore, although my heart would very much like to support the amendment, I am afraid that my mind still cannot. But I am still listening.

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