We intend to publish a modern slavery Bill to strengthen further our response to this abhorrent crime. The Bill will consolidate existing offences, increase the maximum sentence available, limit future activities of perpetrators and introduce an anti-slavery commissioner. The National Crime Agency is also prioritising action against those involved in these appalling crimes.
I thank the Minister for that answer and welcome the introduction of the legislation. I fear that too many trafficked children currently do not receive the support they need. Will the Government consider including a proposal in the forthcoming legislation to appoint independent guardians to ensure that these vulnerable young people have advocates to access support?
My hon. Friend is right to highlight this approach to the support provided to those who are trafficked into this country. I note that the report recently published by the Children’s Society and the Refugee Council made a number of the points my hon. Friend has made. Local authorities already have a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of trafficked children in their care. That is not applied as well across local authorities as it should be. We have a major programme of work in place to transform the care system and we will be focusing on this specific vulnerable group.
Last week I attended a very worrying human rights briefing about human trafficking in Libya—the trafficking of people to Europe generally and the United Kingdom—and the impact of the difficult political situation there. Will the hon. Gentleman urgently discuss the situation with the Foreign Office and see what steps are being taken to limit the criminal activities emanating from Libya?
The hon. Gentleman makes a very important point about the need for work overseas to prevent people from being trafficked into this country. The recently formed National Crime Agency very much focuses on each element of this, really tackling the organised crime groups, and we are already in close contact with our ministerial colleagues at the Foreign Office, but I will certainly note the specific point he makes.