UK anti-slavery laws have a 'gaping hole'

William Wilberforce campaigned to end slavery in the 19th Century
William Wilberforce campaigned to end slavery in the 19th Century

By Liz Stephens

Parliament will debate an amendment to the coroners and justice bill today after a statement by the former director of public prosecutions said existing UK laws leave police unable to pursue cases of slavery in Britain.

Ken MacDonald QC believes the UK may currently be in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights over the matter.

The UK abolished the slave trade many years ago but campaigners argue there is currently no stand alone statutory offence for slavery under UK law.


Campaign groups, Liberty and Anti-Slavery International, are also pushing for a change in the law.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, commented: "In an age when new criminal offences have flown out of Westminster like confetti, the lack of an effective anti-slavery law is a gaping hole in the protection of the vulnerable."

"We urge parliamentarians of all stripes to join together in supporting this amendment and honouring the tradition of William Wilberforce," she said.

Under the amendments proposed, servitude and forced labour would become offences in the UK for the first time.

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