Secretary of State for the Home Department (Theresa May):
Modern slavery is a brutal crime which knows no boundaries and does not discriminate on gender, age, creed, culture or race. Traffickers and slave masters exploit whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment. This is simply unacceptable in modern day Britain. We will not, and cannot let this continue.
That is why I have set up a new Modern Slavery Unit in the Home Office, and it will be responsible for ensuring that we tackle this problem from every angle, whilst always keeping the plight of victims at the very heart of our policies and everything we do.
Today, I have published a White Paper, which includes a draft Modern Slavery Bill [CM 8770] to strengthen our response and reduce the number of victims of this abhorrent crime. This flagship bill will be the first of its kind in Europe, and sends a strong message, both domestically and internationally, that the UK is determined to put an end to modern slavery.
The bill will simplify legislation, toughen sentences for slave drivers, and enable the courts to restrict activity where individuals may be at risk. This will mean that more traffickers are pursued, disrupted and brought to justice. The bill will also create an anti-slavery commissioner who will galvanise law enforcement’s efforts to tackle modern slavery.
We have already asked the Rt Hon Frank Field MP to lead a series of evidence sessions. The draft bill will now be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny and copies will be available from the Vote Office. Both Frank Field’s report and the Joint Committee’s report will inform development of the final bill and an action plan, which will be published in the spring.