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Theresa May: it’s time to stamp out slavery. Again.

3 March 2014

4:43 PM

3 March 2014

4:43 PM

In his Oscars acceptance speech Steve McQueen declared he was dedicating the award for his film 12 Years A Slave to ‘all the people who have endured slavery. And to the millions of people who still suffer slavery today’. His words will no doubt cause shock and surprise; to many it will seem scarcely credible that slavery can exist in our modern age.

Modern slavery is an evil which is happening around the world today – including here in Britain. Across this country in restaurants, shops, brothels, nail bars and on illegal drugs farms are women, men and children, being held against their will, and forced into a life of slavery and abuse.


This Government is determined to stamp out this appalling crime. I am introducing a Modern Slavery Bill – the first of its kind in Europe – which will consolidate and strengthen legislation, making it easier to prosecute and ensuring the harshest penalties are available for the slave drivers and traffickers who inflict such pain and harm. And we can do even more than legislation. An effective law enforcement response is vital if we are to identify victims, and so we are raising awareness and training frontline professionals. We are creating an Anti-Slavery Commissioner – a vital post that will hold to account law enforcement at all levels, the Crown Prosecution Service, local authorities and others to ensure that when victims are identified they are compensated and cared for – and when the slave drivers are found they are put behind bars and stripped of their assets.  In Britain and across Europe prosecution rates are far, far too low. I want to change that.

We are also developing a range of policies to tackle this abhorrent crime.  Some can take effect now – like the child advocates pilots – and others will take longer – like our work with foreign governments.

Ridding Britain of modern slavery will not happen overnight. But every arrest, and every prosecution, means more victims freed, and more prevented from being enslaved in the first place. And all those who still engage in this appalling trade in human misery should be clear: they will be tracked down, prosecuted and sent  behind bars.

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Show comments
  • Dieudonne Munyabarenzi

    Since you feel so bad about slavery.
    I suppose you will be again the neo-liberal debt slave economics, your etonian partners push on us?

  • Cornelius Bonkers

    Now there’s a job for White D – anti-slavery commissioner – and maybe Fungi could be her PA. It makes as much sense to give the job to that dynamic duo as it does to some worn-out and corrupt local authority has-been…

  • Mynydd

    Mrs May has all the powers needed to end modern slavery in Britain, if the Anti-Slavery Commissioner hires the ex-police who she sacked, job done.

  • mandelson

    I’m a wage slave who needs to be liberated

  • GraveDave

    Anytime you allow a Tory to deal with a problem, you just know all the wrong people will end up suffering for it the worst. Ask Mark Wood, Sheila Holt, and the other one (cant remember his name, they seem to be turning up dead all over the place) . All special needs, and all according to ATOS, the DWP (and no doubt some on here), malingerers with pseudo illnesses.
    Oh yeah, and what’s this about water cannon Treze?

  • TRAV1S

    This a bit rich considering your government enslaved freeborn Englishmen to Euro Masser Van Rompuy.

  • ADW

    Proper border controls would stop people being smuggled in for this purpose. How about a properly resourced border police with the clear instruction to turn back anyone arriving from a cross-channel ship, train or plane, with the carrier fined and ordered to pay the attendant costs. This is roughly what took place before the lawyers ruined it with the Dublin Convention. There is no need for a judicial process to determine whether someone who steps off the Eurostar has come from a safe country; by definition they have. True, France/Belgium/Netherlands might not be the first safe country but it’s up to them to police their borders, not usher everyone through to Britain.

    Secondly, for a few years now the traveller community has been fetishised as some sort of precious minority, so the fact they don’t pay taxes or don’t abide by planning laws, and the fact that they practice bare knuckle fighting (even amongst children) and keep slaves is lauded as wonderful diversity. And so you had the appalling abuse/slavery found recently, on which Vanessa Redgrave was strangely silent.

    Any chance of either of those two points being addressed May? Or will you just mouth pieties whilst doing nothing.

  • disqus_KdiRmsUO4U

    Assuming the article is not a spoof which if it is will cause me grave offence , then I intend to setup up a slavery awareness course in the local technical college. which btw is now Travel Lodge.

    In order to improve the quality of the training I have applied for a grant to visit Tower Hamlets Southall Bradford and Bangdemdesh.

  • La Fold

    “Modern Slavery”? what does this term mean?
    Comparing modern day illegal behaviour already covered by existing immigration, employment and criminal laws to the legal and universally accepted historic institution of slavery is like trying to compare apples and oranges.
    We dont need a raft of new laws which no doubt will grant the police, courts, councils, traffic wardens, lollipop men, posties, dinner ladies etc more powers to interfere with our lives but how about, and i know i might sound crazy, we use the laws we already have?

  • Jabez Foodbotham

    If you enlarge the meaning of ‘slavery’ to include a whole range of practices designed to cajole, trick, or force people by illegal or even dicey-legal means into unfair or undesired work and keep them in it, then I suppose we still have ‘slavery’.

    But only if you take a Humpty-Dumptyish approach to what words mean.

    Jumping aboard popular media-driven bandwagons is not very conservative although it is typical of degenerate Toryism.

    • Liz

      What do you think slavery means?

      • Jabez Foodbotham

        The OED says it is the state of being a slave, and a slave is:
        a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them

        What do you think it means?

  • Noa

    It is government which has created slavery by facilitating the growth of alien slave based cultures amongst unchecked EU migrants and third world immigrants.
    It is government which maintains slavery by a welfare and benefit culture which funds dependency and theft.
    It is government which refuses to curb and abolish slavery by arresting imprisoning and deporting the criminals who enslave and traffic.
    It is government which is subordinate to the EU’s principle of Freedom of Movement, the Human Rights Act (and its binding Brussels template), in particular section 8 and encroaching caselaw promulgated by ECHR
    All these areas are the ultimate responsibility of the Home Office and Justice Ministries, Mrs May.

    So what are you and and Christopher Grayling actually doing about them?

    • ADW

      Nothing at all. Cameron promised to reduce net immigration and failed totally. Anything they’ve made a success of?

  • alabenn

    Modern Slavery, what does that mean, it means that they are going to create new laws that will reduce freedom, freedoms that have been whittled away over the last 50 years.
    Lets start defining what these politicians actually mean by the word slavery, the definition is all, otherwise no one will actually be freed, but everyone will lose some freedom.
    Slavery is against the law already, creating new laws will only be needed for something else that will be called slavery, whether it is or not.

  • telemaque

    What Theresa about the slavery of poverty ?
    Of families tied to hovels or hounded out of their tenements because of your withdrawal of housing benefit?
    Of children tied to a future life of poverty because of lack of educational opportunities.
    Please give attention to these more pressing problems.

    • HookesLaw

      Poverty? With the size of our benefits bill? With more people in employment than ever before with millions of jobs being created?
      What we do see is the poverty of your ideas.

  • Smithersjones2013

    How disgracefully cheap. May should be apologising for the almighty mess she has made of immigration rather than attempting to rather sickeningly bask in someone else’s glory.

    The thing is if we had competent border control in this country, slavery would be far less of a concern domestically. It increasingly unbelievable to think that May is a potential future Tory leader. They really can’t have much talent in their party at all.

    • HookesLaw

      The number of migrants is down from what she inherited. There has been a significant decrease in bogus students from Pakistan and India which labour tolerated.

      Non EU immigration is down by a significant number. Many of these who do come are students, ie from China and Hong Kong.
      The govt (admittedly the Vince Cable end of it) claim that these
      students add 13 billion to the economy and they are actively recruiting
      them. I do not trust Cable – but trying to be objective (which is more
      than you ever do) I suspect there is quite a lot of interntional competition for
      these students and their money.
      Note – If they stay longer than a year they no not count now in the immigration figures and they do not now need a post study visa. So these numbers are slewing the statistics.

      The vast number of EU immigrants come to work and have jobs or to legitimately study. They earn spend and pay taxes. We have to take account of all the sad tax exiles coming from France.

  • Not Voting For You

    Almost all slavery in the UK is due to migrants. What is May doing about that?

    • Bonkim

      You have not read this through. Mrs May is speaking about British legislation to deal with the British situation which has a worldwide impact. Some of the slavery in Britain is indigenous.

  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    At least this much is clear – Theresa May is out of the picture whilst a remarkable Green Gove is rapidly expanding his appeal across the core Tory vote.

  • anncalba

    Slavery is evil, can anyone argue with that. But, it happened long before slaves from West Africa were traded to America, (usually with collusion of local tribal chiefs and the expertise of Arab slave traders). The Persians captured Greeks in their wars, and the craftsmen were set to work, having had their feet cut off to stop them running away. The Roman empire ran on slavery. Barbary pirates from North Africa captured whire Europeans and sold them into slavery in the middle east…the list is endless, and slavery still exists in many parts of the world. I am truly sorry for the black slaves in Colonial America, but very proud (if I am allowed to be) of Wilberforce’s part in abolishing that trade. But still we are expected to apologise, as if the wicked British were the only beople in the world responsible for slavery.

    • Smithersjones2013

      Except of course Britain was renowned for the quality of its slaves in Roman times and before (it was one of our major exports)!

      • RobertC

        And the Barbary pirates helped this export trade over many centuries, starting in the 16th century:

        “The main purpose of their attacks was to capture Christian slaves for the Ottoman slave trade as well as the general Muslim market in North Africa and the Middle East”

    • HookesLaw

      The issue is modern ‘slavery’. A massive figure was mentioned on the ‘This Week’ show a few weeks back.

    • Bonkim

      who is talking about apologising for the past – slavery is here and now – and Mrs May’s legislation is to deal with the present. In any case no point discussing the past in terms of present day standards.

  • swatnan

    We really do need to ‘name an shame’ a few countries prone to this kind of trade namely the East Africans, the Gulf States and the East Europeans involved in people trafficing and slavery, as well as the usual suspects who’ve been doing it for decades longer.. Unfortunately some of the culprits have diplomatic immunity, and their victims are treated as chatel, and they think no one will challenge what they regard as a ‘cultural’ thing. I would like the organisations that tackle modern day slavery to prove them wrong and throw the book at them. This kind of thing is unacceptable; and that kind of culture is wrong and must and will change.

    • Bonkim

      Naming and shaming them in Britain is meaningless – few tune into what we say here and most will dismiss our comments as idiotic.

    • RobertC

      “We really do need to ‘name an shame’ a few countries prone to this kind of trade namely the East Africans ….”

      Surely, not Kenya? How ironic!

  • The_greyhound

    I had no idea that Mrs May had been kidnapped and sold into slavery.

    Not a moment too soon.

    • Smithersjones2013

      Why else would one be a member of the Tory party these days?

  • Bert3000

    May’s attacks on freedom won’t free a single slave.

    • Donafugata

      Quite, any more than her alleged attempts to reduce immigration.
      Two sides of the same coin.

  • Frank

    This type of modern day slavery has been going on in Britain for decades. I am very glad that new legislation is coming that may help to fight this type of crime, but it is deeply terrible that in the past, apart from the odd raid on a brothel, the police have usually seemed to turn a blind eye to this kind of crime. Rather as the police turned a blind eye to the grooming gangs and or failed to prosecute serious crime (eg why does it take 20 years to prosecute the Adams family?).