Calls for change in law to combat modern slavery
A RAFT of changes has been proposed to try to clamp down on slavery in the UK.
The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has compiled a report examining the issue, which states that efforts to tackle modern slavery are "in a state of crisis".
The publication of the report, entitled It Happens Here, comes just months after the Connors family were convicted of a forced labour conspiracy in Gloucestershire. Family members were jailed for the offences, which were centred around the Beggar's Roost caravan site in Bamfurlong.
There were more than 1,000 victims of human trafficking in the UK found last year, according to the report which suggests such a figure is "only the tip of the iceberg" because of a "shambolic identification system".
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As a result of its findings, the CSJ is calling for a radical overhaul of measures to combat slavery in the 21st Century.
Christian Guy, managing director of the CSJ, said: "Our research has uncovered a shocking underworld in which children and adults, many of them UK citizens, have been forced into lives of utter degradation.
"Yet the authorities are either failing to understand the nature of this abuse or turning a blind eye to its existence. Our once great nation of abolitionists is a shameful shadow of its former self."
The CSJ wants to see responsibility for leading the fight handed over to the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, away from the remit of the Minister for Immigration.
Detective Inspector Sue Bradshaw, from Gloucestershire police, said: "This is a complex area for policing because of the nature of the legislation and the difficulties in proving trafficking and helping those who are being exploited understand they are victims. However, Gloucestershire Constabulary has a proven track record in tackling these criminal enterprises, shutting them down and recovering victims. This has happened both in cases where sexual exploitation has occurred and cases where it hasn't been a factor, such as the Connors case."