The UK needs to introduce an independent Anti-Trafficking Commissioner Catherine Bearder MEP has said today (18 October) on EU anti-trafficking day.
She is adding her voice to ECPAT UK and the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group (ATMG), a coalition of UK-based charities committed to fighting the trafficking of adults and children.
The introduction of a Commissioner is vital in ensuring that the UK meets it obligations under EU Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings, which entered into force on the 6th April 2013.
Catherine said: "The UK government has proved they are committed to fighting human trafficking. New maximum sentences have been announced today and they are signed up to the EU Directive. But signing up is one thing, they need to put into practice the actions they've agreed to.
"It is particularly crucial that this Commissioner is independent to properly scrutinise how the government is responding to this most abhorrent of crimes.
"Crimes like human trafficking can only be tackled by working together with our EU partners. A Commissioner will make this easier. When crime and victims cross borders, justice and care must too."
Chloe Setter, Head of Advocacy, Policy & Campaigns, ECPAT UK, said: "An Anti-Trafficking Commissioner is essential in the fight against human trafficking, particularly in the context of a rise in the number of victims being identified.
"A Commissioner would monitor and analyse the activity and response of the Government to trafficking, providing independent scrutiny of the performance of key agencies and ensure that victims' experience, needs and rights are central.
"This week we have seen cases involving women forced to be 'sex slaves' found in brothel raids in Birmingham, a 10-year-old kept as a domestic servant and sexually abused in Manchester and a gang jailed for selling a woman for a sham marriage. There needs to be oversight and accountability of all trafficking cases to improve the country's response to this crime and help us prevent it in the UK."
Catherine Bearder joined the Oxford Community Against Trafficking (OXCAT) in the centre of Oxford yesterday to collect signatures of support for this campaign