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Human Trafficking

Volume 524: debated on Thursday 10 March 2011

1. What discussions she has had with ministerial colleagues on the support available to women trafficked to the UK. (45303)

The Government are determined to ensure that all identified victims of this terrible crime receive the support to which they are entitled. Ministers work together, including through the interdepartmental group on human trafficking, to ensure that we achieve that objective.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that answer. Support is absolutely critical for women who have been trafficked. Will she clarify whether the new Home Office policy on human trafficking will include at least a three-month period of support, as recommended by the European Union group of experts on trafficking in human beings in its opinion of 16 April 2004?

The Council of Europe convention, to which we have signed up, sets a minimum of 30 days. I am pleased to reassure my hon. and learned Friend, however, that in this country we have a minimum 45-day extendable recovery period for accommodation, counselling or reintegration if desired.

We found that using a single contractor was extremely inflexible and led to a lack of capacity. The lack of bed capacity meant that voluntary organisations were taking in trafficked women and, because they were going all over the place, it was impossible to have proper oversight of all those who needed help and support. For that reason, we have changed the procurement process.

Women are trafficked not only to the UK but within these islands. Will the Minister and her ministerial colleagues use the auspices of the British-Irish Council to improve support for women who have been trafficked throughout these islands, as well as to improve enforcement?

We are happy to work with all the nations on this serious issue to stop women being trafficked within and without these islands.

It is the parliamentary spring, and in this country it is quite difficult to tell, but it will happen in due course.

Since my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman) raised the European directive on human trafficking with the Prime Minister on 15 September, the issue has been raised at least 40 times in this Chamber alone. The final text of the directive was agreed by the European Parliament more than 12 weeks ago. How often do we need to ask the Minister about this? How long does she need before she decides that Britain will sign up to the directive?

We are undertaking proper consideration and discussion with the devolved Administrations, but I can assure the hon. Lady that it will not be that much longer.