Press release

Government seeks to join Europe-wide accord to tackle human trafficking

The government will apply to opt in to a Europe-wide effort to help tackle the brutal crime of human trafficking, subject to Parliament’s views, Immigration Minister Damian Green announced today.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Home Secretary Theresa May has written to Parliamentary Scrutiny Committees, seeking their views on the government’s intention to apply to opt in to the European Union Directive on Human Trafficking.

The UK already carries out most measures required by the Directive. But opting in will ensure Britain remains a world leader in combating trafficking and enshrine in law the good practice that happens routinely.The Directive will introduce a number of measures, including extending the UK’s power to prosecute UK nationals who commit offences anywhere in the world, even when there is no connection to the UK, helping to ensure that traffickers do not escape justice. It will also strengthen a shared approach among 27 countries.

Home Office minister Damian Green said: ‘Tackling human trafficking is a priority for the Government. The UK has an excellent record on fighting human trafficking and the organised criminals who profit from misery.

‘The government is determined to build on that. The UK Human Trafficking Centre already works with law enforcement agencies providing valuable tactical advice, intelligence analysis and expertise in anti-trafficking operations 24/7.

‘Opting in would send a powerful message to traffickers that Britain is not a soft touch and that we remain world leaders in fighting this terrible crime.’

In June the government announced it would not opt in to the Directive at the outset but would review its position when there was a finalised text to ensure that it would benefit the UK. This has now taken place.

The government will publish a Human Trafficking strategy in the Spring. Support for victims will be a key part of this coupled with action to stop trafficking happening in the first place.

The strategy will focus on:

strengthening work with countries where criminal gangs are based

improving the co-ordination of policing efforts in the UK to tackle trafficking

using the new National Crime Agency with its border policing responsibilities to improve security and provide a stronger deterrent at the border

working with professionals to improve help for victims of trafficking

Notes to editors

  1. Supporting documentation for the Directive is available from the European Union website:
Published 22 March 2011