Human Trafficking

People might be surprised that, over two centuries after Britain became the first country in the world to abolish the slave trade, we still need a National Anti-Slavery Day, which fell this week.

In parts of Africa, South Asia and Latin America, men, women and children are still regularly bought and sold as slaves.  But the problem of slavery still exists in Europe, and even here in our own country, where it is better known as human trafficking.

The recent arrests by Bedfordshire Police, which many will have seen reported on the news, revealed that this isn't just an urban problem.

People are taken against their will and then bought, sold and transported into slavery for sexual exploitation, sweat shop labour, forced begging, domestic servitude and even sale of their organs.

It is an immensely lucrative trade, estimated to bring in twice the worldwide revenue of Coca Cola every year.

On Thursday I attended the Sussex launch of Active Communities Against Trafficking, a new branch of the Stop the Traffik charity (, at Windlesham House School near Washington.

I was able to set out the steps that the Home Office is taking to deal with this revolting trade: improving the identification and care of victims, enhancing our ability to act early before harm reaches the UK, smarter action at the border, and more coordination of our law enforcement efforts in the UK.

Raising public awareness is crucial in the fight against human trafficking and that's why this launch was so important.  It was inspiring to see community members, working in partnership with Sussex Police, to pit these issues in the spotlight.

I am delighted to have been able to support this initiative to help the public to recognise the signs of trafficking and how to report it to the Police.

We know that the risk to traffickers remains too low and the profits they can generate too high and too secure.  We want to disrupt their activity and increase their risk of being convicted so that we drive human trafficking out of the UK.

My hope is that National Anti-Slavery day will become unnecessary and slavery will truly become an ugly episode in our past.

Christopher N Howarth