Dear Prime Minister,

Protecting Victims of Modern Slavery

We are writing to express our grave concern about the Illegal Migration Bill currently at the committee stage in the House of Lords.

Modern slavery is a brutal crime, involving wide networks of highly sophisticated criminals who buy and sell people for profit.

Victims of this appalling crime may have entered the UK illegally through no fault of their own. They have been brought here – coerced, deceived, or in many cases forced against their will – with their identity and decision-making powers stripped away from them.

The Illegal Migration Bill in its current form would see thousands of victims punished for the crimes committed by their perpetrators. They will be deported or held in detention centres where the traumas they have experienced would be exacerbated.

As a group of 35 organisations and individuals with extensive experience of working with survivors, we are calling for anyone who meets the Home Office’s strict criteria to be deemed a possible victim of modern slavery to:

  1. a) have the right to receive support while their case is considered by the Home Office
  2. b) be protected from the duty of removal, regardless of how they entered the country

We ask that the government reconsider this decision to withdraw the protections enshrined in the Modern Slavery Act, which will have catastrophic consequences for those who have been victims of a crime committed on our shores.

Yours sincerely,

Patrick Ryan, CEO, Hestia

Major Kathy Betteridge, Director of Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery for The Salvation Army

Paul Bott, CEO St John of God Hospitaller Services

Caroline O’Connor, CEO, Migrant Help

Lorraine Mealings, CEO, Bournemouth Churches Housing Association Ltd

Andrew Wallis, CEO, Unseen

Ed Newton, CEO, Causeway

Garry Smith, CEO, Medaille Trust

Wanjiku Mbugua-Ngotho, Acting CEO, Bawso

Lara Bundock, CEO and Founder, Snowdrop

Professor Dame Sara Thornton, Former Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner

Lord Morgan of Aberdyfi

Lord Foster of Bath

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon

Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

Lord Singh of Wimbledon, Director, Network of Sikh Organisations

Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard

Anne Hollinghurst Bishop of Aston and Acting

Bishop of Birmingham

Baroness Meacher

Carolyn Harris MP, Swansea East

Sarah Champion MP, Rotherham

Alison Thewliss MP, Glasgow Central

Deidre Brock MP, Edinburgh North and Leith

Alan Brown MP, Kilmarnock and Loudoun

Martyn Day MP, Linlithgow and East Falkirk

David Linden MP, Glasgow East

Gavin Newlands MP, Paisley and Renfrewshire North

Amy Callaghan MP, East Dunbartonshire

Anne McLaughlin MP, Glasgow North East

Tommy Sheppard MP, Edinburgh East

Ronnie Cowan MP, Inverclyde

Philippa Whitford MP, Central Ayrshire

Angus MacNeil MP, Nah-Eileanan an Ia