Protect victims of modern slavery from Illegal Migration Bill

published on 28 Apr 2023

Lords urged to protect victims of modern slavery from a bill designed to tackle illegal Immigration.

The Salvation Army is greatly concerned that the Illegal Migration Bill passed through the House of Commons while still containing  provisions which will entrap the victims of modern slavery. 

As the bill currently stands, it will be almost impossible for people being forced by criminal gangs to work in atrocious and often violent conditions to get help and break free from their captors.

As the Bill now moves to the House of Lords, The Salvation Army urges all parliamentarians to protect the rights of exploited and vulnerable people by removing the modern slavery system from a bill designed to tackle illegal migration.

Major Kathy Betteridge, Director of Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery said; 

“Without major amendments, this bill will have the unintended consequence of undermining the rights of survivors of modern slavery and make it harder for genuine victims to access support through the existing systems. 

"As it stands, trafficked victims who are brought to the UK illegally and against their will, will be those who are punished, while criminal trafficking networks will be able to continue to profit.

“This is a defining moment for the UK to stand firm to its heritage of protecting vulnerable people, giving opportunities for all people to live a full and free life and, together, addressing evils faced across the world.

“While we have serious concerns around the bill as a whole, our position as holder of the Modern Slavery Victim Care Contract (MSVCC) gives us a unique insight into the potentially devastating impact  this bill will have on victims of modern slavery and human trafficking. 

"As currently drafted, this bill will not tackle or break the cycle of exploitation or help victims break free. Rather, it feeds the criminal networks who profit from the lives of vulnerable people. It is essential that genuine victims of modern slavery are not refused the right to seek our help.

“We are yet to see evidence showing that the modern slavery system is being widely exploited. We must not undermine our world leading system as part of the Government’s efforts to tackle illegal immigration. We also have concerns about the lack of scrutiny throughout the bill’s passage through the House of Commons, for instance, the Government is yet to publish an assessment detailing the bill’s expected impact. 

"It is vital that such a consequential bill is accompanied with comprehensive evidence to allow for proper consideration and debate. 

“The Salvation Army is committed to using its position to stand alongside those who will be affected by the bill. As the bill now passes to the House of Lords we will continue to work with parliamentarians from all parties to ensure that survivors of modern slavery are able to receive the support they are entitled in the UK and within international law."

Salvation Army Officer comforts a person in one of our shelters

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