Victims of forced labour should get compensation, says commissioner

Ford welcomes anti-slavery commissioner to Northern Ireland
Ford welcomes anti-slavery commissioner to Northern Ireland

Britain’s first anti-slavery commissioner has called for victims of forced labour to receive compensation.

Kevin Hyland warned as few as a tenth of survivors received any support or police investigation after the Home Office disclosed that up to 13,000 people are affected.

The former senior detective at the Metropolitan Police is spearheading the fight against the evil trade.

He said: “The victims and survivors deserve justice, and that must, where appropriate, include compensation.

“The victimisation of others will only be prevented through a robust, effective criminal justice system where those responsible for inflicting these crimes are convicted and imprisoned.

“Bureaucracy, or convoluted processes, do nothing to help those trapped in modern slavery, but perversely benefit those who commit these crimes. So I expect a swift and effective response.”

Mr Hyland was appointed by Home Secretary Theresa May in November. He attended a conference in Newry, Co Down, on forced labour in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Last month the Home Office said up to 13,000 potential victims live in the UK, a dramatic increase on previous estimates.

Mr Hyland added: “This is in contrast to the official statistics that are recorded in crime reports, meaning as few as one in 10 victims of modern slavery receive any form of support or a police investigation.

“So are we responding to modern slavery with a modern response?

“Well in many cases the answer is no.”

Mr Hyland said he wanted to ensure victims are identified and given the support they need.

He said: “Criminal gangs who coerce, deceive and force vulnerable people in to a life of abuse, do not recognise borders, but often see them as new regions to trade and increase their criminal enterprise, to make money.

“Slavery today exists for the same purpose as it has throughout history: to maximise profit for exploiters by minimising or eliminating the cost of labour.”