X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Please note: Previously subscribers used a 'WebID' to log into the website. Your subscriber number is not the same as the WebID. Please ensure you use the subscriber number when you link your subscription.

Coffee House

Justice for the cockle pickers would be a new Modern Slavery Bill

5 February 2014

6:21 PM

5 February 2014

6:21 PM

Ten years ago the sands of Morecambe Bay were stained by modern slavery.  The death of 23 terrified Chinese cockle pickers, left stranded as the tide swept in, shocked our country.

Smuggled into the region with the false promise of prosperity, two women and 22 men were sent to do the treacherous beach work on 5 February 2004.  Their ringleaders had destroyed their passports, and, using violence, threats and the cruellest of coercion, they destroyed their lives too.

Only one survived. Li Hua spoke recently of his constant anguish. He tells of the night terrors, the panic attacks and his gut-wrenching sadness. Despite everything though, he knows he’s lucky to be alive.

In the end the principal trafficker, Triad chief Lin Liang Ren, served just four months in prison for each of the lives he ended.  Others, including his then girlfriend, were convicted of immigration offences.

[Alt-Text]


A decade later too many people live with the torment Li Hua describes.  Millions more are yet to know the freedom he grips so tightly today.  Countless criminals continue to exploit victims unabated.

The global slavery picture is naturally blurry.  Some organisations estimate that as many as 27 million people are enslaved, others like the Walk Free Foundation have created an Index which tries to a make country by country assessment.  The UN says that trafficking ranks second only to the drug trade amongst the most valuable international crimes.

As the grim Morecambe anniversary passes, the picture in the UK is murkier still.  In the space of nine months in 2013 over a thousand victims were identified, according to the Home Office. But, because of flaws in our victim referral system and enforcement approach, the true number is much higher.

Yet amidst the injustice a precious opportunity has emerged.  Following the Centre for Social Justice’s 2013 report It Happens Here, the Home Secretary has committed to pass a new Modern Slavery Bill.  If crafted ambitiously and backed by Labour, it has the potential to prevent further tragedies like the one we remember today.

The Bill should create an independent role for an Anti-Slavery Commissioner to give a voice to survivors. It should bring clarity to the law to make policing, prosecutions and convictions easier. It should also ensure that businesses make a priority of ensuring their supply chains are clear of modern slavery.  Horsemeat instead of beef caused outrage.  What about the reality of slaves instead of staff?

Today, as we think of those who died at Morecambe Bay, we have a way out. Through a Modern Slavery Bill the UK can lead again. Let’s take our chance.

Christian Guy is Director of the Centre for Social Justice

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
Close