Support for Modern Slavery Bill (17 Dec 2013)

The Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, Mark Burns-Williamson, said that he welcomed the draft anti-slavery legislation proposing to bring in tougher sentences for human traffickers by Home Secretary Theresa May.

The Modern Slavery Bill aims to increase the maximum custodial sentence for offenders from 14 years to life and there is cross party support for action to tackle modern-day slavery.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: "I would also like to join Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper in calling for the Bill to go further to provide stronger legal protection for child victims.

"I have pledged to work with fellow Police and Crime Commissioners and internationally to tackle issues such as trafficking and forced marriage and plan to meet with more charities who work with victims of this awful practice to learn more about what we can do to help.

"I will be looking at the scale of this problem in West Yorkshire and how it can be measured accurately so we can develop ways of tackling it to ensure we are making communities safer and feeling safer.

"An operation took place in Leeds recently seeking to recover potential victims of trafficking. It saw 60 officers supported by Leeds Council, health services, Hope for Justice and the Salvation Army visit 25 addresses across Leeds to offer help to families identified as being potential victims of trafficking.

"We will use the lessons learned from this operation to inform how we deal with this shocking practice going forward."

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