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Helping the victims of human trafficking

31 March 2009

Victims of human trafficking will receive better protection and support under new European measures now coming into force in the UK.

The Council of Europe's Convention Against Trafficking in Human Beings (new window) creates minimum legal rights for victims, and improves methods used to catch and prosecute traffickers.

The UK ratified the convention in December 2008, and its requirements are now coming into force.

Each year an increasing number of people, the majority of them women and children, are lured or kidnapped by traffickers to be used in the sex trade, or as forced labour.

The government has been working hard in recent years to arrest the traffickers, and find and free the victims.

Key elements

Some key elements the convention contains are:

  • new national guidelines to help frontline staff identify and help victims of trafficking
  • £4m over two years to improve victim support and housing
  • creating a 45-day recovery period for victims of trafficking, and the possibility of a one-year renewable residence permit.

The convention's procedures have already been tested in the UK in several operations. Operation Pentameter 2, in 2007-08, rescued 167 victims from 833 premises and resulted in more than 500 arrests. More than half a million pounds was seized, and more than £3m in assets were held under restraint.

Modern day slavery

The Home Secretary said, ‘Human trafficking is one of the most horrendous crimes threatening our society. Those who are responsible for this modern form of slavery are profiting from human misery and suffering.
‘It is vital that European member states work together to stop this awful crime and I am determined that the UK will continue to play its part by supporting victims and bringing the perpetrators to justice.’

Increased funding

The government plans to build on these advances by continuing to fund programmes that help victims of trafficking, and find and arrest members of the criminal gangs responsible.

Since 2006, we have doubled funding for the UK Human Trafficking Centre to £1.7m, and we are spending £3.7m over the next two years on the Poppy project (new window), which provides shelter and protection to victims of trafficking.

Read more on human trafficking

To find out more about what the government is doing, visit the human trafficking page on the Home Office crime reduction website (new window).

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