In January 2018, we launched the petition calling on the U.K. government to pass the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill into law. This bill would give victims of modern slavery in England and Wales the best chance of recovery and reduce the risk of re-trafficking through providing a statutory secure pathway of support, and transparent and legal entitlements for victims, as in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The law in England and Wales does not guarantee specialist long-term support and access to other services for modern slavery survivors to overcome their traumatic experiences. It offers an initial 45 days reflection and recovery period to those the government believes may be victims, whilst in Northern Ireland, and Scotland where this period is being extended to 90 days, legislation guarantees victims will be provided with support.
Lord McColl’s Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill would ensure that victims receive a support worker and a care plan for 12 months immediately following their formal recognition as a victim to help them make that journey to survivor and a life that is free for good.
Although the UK government has pledged its commitment to ending modern slavery, the Bill failed to successfully move through the parliamentary process despite our best campaigning efforts in partnership with the ‘Free For Good’ coalition of UK organizations.
March 2018: The Bill passed the Committee stage in the House of Lords with no amendments. Click here to read more.
November 2018: The UK parliament’s lower house was due to read the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill, which would ensure slavery victims in the UK receive guaranteed support. We’re disappointed the debate has been postponed until January 25, 2019. Click here to listen to Lord McColl explain why the Bill is so important.
March 2019: We took your names to the Prime Minister’s office! Over 64,000 actions have been collectively taken demanding better support for victims of modern slavery in the UK. Thanks to your support, survivors were able to join us in London to represent themselves and make their voices heard.
September 2019: Prime Minister Boris Johnson suspended Parliament resulting in the bill being dropped from the agenda in the House of Commons. We hope to see the bill reintroduced in the next session of Parliament.
January 2020: Lord McColl reintroduced the bill in the new session of Parliament and the bill is having its first reading. We welcome this progress and hope that the bill will proceed quickly through the House of Lords.
January 2021: We are disappointed to receive a response from the UK government stating they do not support the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill in its current form and do not believe survivors should be given 12 months leave to remain. It is deeply concerning that immigration priorities once again trump the meaningful recovery & protection of survivors. Read the full response from the government here.
March 2021: Freedom United urgently calls on the U.K. government to adopt the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill and introduce the legislation in the next parliamentary session. Read the press release here.
Unfortunately, following successive changes in government since launching the campaign, the bill has not progressed through parliament despite our best efforts. With the passage of harmful legislation including the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 and the Illegal Migration Act 2023 that strips modern slavery victims of protections, we know that the chances of the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill passing are slim at this time.
However, we will always keep campaigning for the rights of modern slavery survivors and continue to work in solidarity with partners in the U.K. and around the world calling for better protections for survivors.