The Government is committed to stamping out modern-day slavery both domestically and internationally. Since the world-leading Modern Slavery Act 2015 was introduced, more victims and survivors are being rescued and supported than ever before, more perpetrators are being brought to justice, and thousands of businesses have published slavery and human trafficking statements.
It is crucial that we continue to provide support for victims of this heinous crime, and I am proud that we already exceed our international obligation in this area through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) - the system for identifying and supporting victims. Support services are provided to enable victims to leave situations of exploitation, receive specialist care and to begin to rebuild their lives.
The Government has made clear that it is committed to continually improving support and assistance provided before, during and after the NRM for victims of modern slavery. That is why in October 2017 a comprehensive package of reforms to the NRM was announced. The reforms include measures to significantly increase the period of 'move on' support for victims from 14 to 45 days, helping to create a smoother transition out of care. This will be in addition to the minimum 45 days of support victims already receive before a final decision is reached, increasing the total period to at least 90 days. Government funded 'places of safety' will be created which will provide up to three days of immediate support to victims rescued out of a situation of exploitation by law enforcement, as well as up to 6 months of 'drop-in' services for confirmed victims transitioning out of the NRM. These reforms will ensure the NRM operates as a bridge that supports victims to leave situations of exploitation and enables them to begin to recover and rebuild their lives.
Many victims of modern slavery in the UK are trafficked into the UK from abroad. The Home Office's £33.5 million Modern Slavery Fund was set up to support victims from countries which are regular sources of trafficked people coming into the UK, and bring perpetrators to justice by working in partnership with key source countries. The criminals behind modern slavery are also being tackled, as police and law enforcement agencies make good use of new powers and tools provided by the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
As you may be aware, Lord McColl’s Victim Support Bill is currently progressing through the House of Lords. I know that the Government is grateful for Lord McColl's commitment to ensuring that victims of modern slavery are identified and receive the support they need to begin rebuilding their lives. I welcome the opportunity that his Bill has presented for debate and discussion around how support for victims can be improved.
Slavery is the gravest human rights abuse of our time, and we must do everything we can to stamp it out. I am proud of the action this Government is taking, but there is always more to do.