Slavery is alive and well in modern England but the laws designed to protect genuine victims are being used by foreign criminals to evade justice.
Mrs May’s slavery laws, enacted when she was Home Secretary in 2015, give trafficked children freedom from prosecution under section 45 of the Human Trafficking, Smuggling and Slavery laws, even if they have committed serious criminal offences.
The National Referal Mechanism (NRM) then gives the youngsters foster care in a scheme aimed to transform the lives of vulnerable youngsters. But the policy is open to exploitation, with police given just 24 hours to prove that a criminal is an adult before UK law states that they must be placed in care, something police chiefs say is “impossible” in such a short time span.
Speaking to The Sunday Times which uncovered the loophole, Detective Sergeant Stuart Peall, Head of Lancashire constabulary’s exploitation team, said: “How do you prove the age of a foreign national inside 24 hours who won’t even tell you their real name?
“In most cases it is simply impossible. Age assessments take weeks. There is no way of doing it inside that timescale. The law means there is a presumption they are under 18 unless we can prove otherwise within hours of arrest.”
Sergeant Peall was involved in a case involving a 30-year-old mother who posed as a 16-year-old trafficking victim on several occasions to avoid going to jail. Kim Thien Tran was placed in foster care after arriving in the UK in the back of a lorry and lying about her age.
Tran soon escaped and was caught in a cannabis farm, again claiming she was 16-years-old and the victim of trafficking. She was again placed in foster care but soon left before being tracked by Police to another cannabis farm in Blackpool.
But Sergeant Peall’s team was successful in prosecuting Tran after recovering a laptop which had incriminating photos of her celebrating her own 30th birthday alongside her two children. She pleaded guilty and was jailed for 28 months.
But in some cases, adults can be given immunity from the NRM scheme as long as they help Police bring traffickers to justice. In return for help, the adults are given houses and support from the Salvation Army as part of a multi-million pound government scheme.
Theresa May introduced new modern slavery laws in 2015 whilst Home Secretary after Home Office statistics showed that the number of victims per year could be as high as 13,000.
The Home Office said: “Modern slavery and trafficking are barbaric crimes and we remain committed to stamping them out and supporting genuine victims.”
Statistics from the CPS showed a jump in prosecutions in the year that the act was introduced. In 2013-14 some 103 people were charged under modern slavery laws, but this rose to 195 just a year later.
Illegal criminals have more protection than the English children of Rochdale, Rotherham and Oxford. It is all part of the legacy of our worst ever Home Secretary and Prime Minister.