Modern Slavery Bill proceeds to committee stage in House of Lords

Introduced by Lord McColl, the bill calls for increasing the period of time during which victims receive support from 45 days to a year

The House of Lords is discussing a new private member’s bill to increase the level of support for rescued victims of modern slavery.

Introduced by Lord McColl, the bill calls for increasing the period of time during which victims receive support from 45 days to a year.

New research commissioned by the Co-op Group, which expressed support for the bill, shows that two thirds of British people (66%) believe the period is too short a period for genuine rehabilitation and rebuilding. They would also back a move to extend the level of support to 12 months.

Furthermore, the research also revealed that one in five British people (18%) are unaware that modern slavery exists. Of those who have heard of modern slavery, 85% regard it as a serious crime and feel that more needs to be done to support the victims. More than a third (36%) of respondents in the Co-op’s study said they did not know what support was being provided.

Lord McColl said: “Sadly, many victims of modern slavery find themselves homeless and destitute when their short stay in a specialist safe house comes to an end. Each of these people has experienced terrible exploitation which most of us cannot imagine. We can and must do better to help victims recover from their traumatic experiences and help them to rebuild their lives. I am glad to know that the majority of British people agree.

“My bill aims to ensure that victims will be guaranteed support for the short term crisis period when they first escape and for one year afterwards as they create a new and positive future for themselves. I hope the government will give it their full support.”

To provide assistance to modern slavery victims, the Co-op has teamed up with anti-trafficking charity City Hearts to launch Bright Future, giving 30 survivors a four-week work placement within its food business.

Related: How the Co-op is working to prevent modern slavery across supply chains

Paul Gerrard, the Group’s policy and campaigns director, said: “It’s encouraging to learn that there is compassion for the plight of victims and a clear backing to extend the period of support provided to them.

“Ending modern slavery is a key priority for the Co-op and we’re delighted to be supporting Lord McColl’s private member’s bill, while playing a key role in offering paid employment to victims through our Bright Future programme.

“The prime minister has, quite rightly, identified modern slavery as ‘the great human rights issue of our time’ and has committed to stamp it out. This bill is a crucial opportunity for the government to build on what it has done and deliver justice for victims in the UK. We call on Theresa May to support it.”

The bill will now move to a committee stage, which will include a line-by-line examination.

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