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People Trafficking

Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Minister for Women what assessment she has made of progress in tackling the illegal trafficking of women. [127787]

I have been asked to reply.We have set out a comprehensive approach to tackle trafficking in women and other forms of organised crime in the "White Paper Secure Borders, Safe Haven" published in 2002. The United Kingdom was one of the first countries to sign the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime, and its Optional Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children. The Government also supports action to combat trafficking, in both European Union and international fora and has supported information campaigns aimed at alerting women to the risks involved in such illegal immigration.

The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 introduced a new offence of trafficking for the purpose of controlling prostitution with a maximum penalty of 14 years, and comprehensive offences covering trafficking into, out of and within the UK for purposes of sexual exploitation are included in the Sexual Offences Bill.

The Government have also recently published a trafficking toolkit, which will be a best practice guide for immigration officers, police and others potentially dealing with trafficking. A pilot scheme to support victims of trafficking to help them give evidence against their exploiters has been running since March 2003.