The Gangmasters’ Licensing Authority (GLA) has welcomed an invitation from the Prime Minister to join her task force to tackle modern slavery.
One year on from the Modern Slavery Act, the government is now beginning a more co-ordinated policy to try to eradicate modern slavery in the UK, where between 10,00 and 13,000 people are thought to be living as slaves.
The new taskforce, which will be chaired by May, aims to do more to bring perpetrators to justice, including fresh produce firms and recruiters that exploit seasonal workers from Eastern Europe.
In 2013 a BBC investigation revealed that migrant workers in the Fens were being brought in on the promise of non-existent work and housed in overcrowded accommodation, with some being paid less than £1 a week.
The taskforce, which will support victims both domestically and overseas, will focus on four key objectives:
1) Combining the fight against modern slavery with resources to tackle other forms of organised crime, through increased investigation and intelligence
2) Increasing and improving investigations into the perpetrators of modern slavery
3) Improving successful prosecution levels with further education of prosecuting authorities on modern slavery
4) Boosting international cooperation to tackle modern slavery.
Alongside the PM and the GLA’s chief executive Paul Broadbent, the taskforce will be made up of the heads of all three intelligence agencies – Mi5, Mi6 and GCHQ – as well as the Metropolitan Police commissioner, the head of Europol and the secretary general of Interpol.
May said: “Across the world an estimated 45 million people are enduring experiences that are simply horrifying in their inhumanity. That’s why I am determined to drive forward international action to eradicate modern slavery.
“Just as the criminals cross borders, so we need a radical new approach that crosses borders – sharing intelligence and joining up investigations.”
Alongside the taskforce, the Government has earmarked £33 million from the UK aid budget to tackle modern slavery in high risk countries, where victims are known to be trafficked regularly to the UK.
The taskforce is expected to meet for the first time next month.