Sputnik: Could you explain how these female victims were failed by the UK government?
Debbie: They are exploited in many ways… some through sexual exploitation, some through domestic servitude, some through illegal abduction and also many come through forced marriage especially those from sexual exploitation and domestic servitude. What we are seeing is there is a lack of awareness really; a lack of training from frontline professionals to be able to identify that these people are being exploited. The risks the indicators of victim trafficking are being missed which means they are being criminalized in many cases. There have been many cases, as we see, where they are being detained unlawfully – they are victims of human trafficking. They actually are forced to commit crimes or are here on an illegal work documents and are coerced to do, so they should not be blamed for that criminal activity and be given the support they need to help them recover from those experiences.
Debbie: There is a very clear framework. Since the modern slavery act in 2015, there is a duty to notify. Any statute body coming across somebody who is a victim of trafficking has a duty to refer them into the system and if they hit the indicators of that, they should then be responded appropriately and given support, accommodation, as I said earlier not criminalized, and in fact be seen as what they are a victim that is exploited through this horrendous crime.
Sputnik: What policies should we be seeing from the government to stamp out trafficking and protect those vulnerable of being exploited?
Debbie: We actually do have policies and legislation in place, what we need to do is actually make sure that all the frontline professionals are resourced appropriately and trained appropriately. There is no mandatory training around human trafficking in lots of the areas. We’re talking about areas like police, social care, and health care. If we were resourcing those areas properly they would firstly be able to train to identify victims of human trafficking and then be resourced to be able to support them. What’s happening is there isn’t a priority on this issue. Without proper resourcing and proper focus and also training and coordinating approaches between authorities, we aren’t going to move any further in tackling it.
The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker, and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.