The work of Hope for Justice has once again been referenced in Parliament.
During Attorney General’s Questions yesterday, Labour MP for Bristol East, Kerry McCarthy, said: “The anti-slavery charity Hope for Justice has said that two-thirds of UK modern slavery victims are in the waste industry. The Environment Agency is training its staff to spot this exploitation. What liaison is the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) having with the Environment Agency on this matter?”
She was speaking in reference to an interview given by our International Programme Director, Neil Wain, former Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police. Speaking to industry news source Materials Recycling World, Neil said: “In our experience, more than two-thirds of the victims of forced labour we rescued in the UK last year had spent at least some of their time in exploitation at a facility doing some kind of waste processing or recycling. Although this is not necessarily nationally representative, because of the geography of our investigative hubs and the fact that we have deliberately focused on this sector, it does provide anecdotal illustration of the scale of the problem, outside of a few star performers who are doing really good work.”
The fact that the Environment Agency is working with Hope for Justice to improve its response to modern slavery was highlighted at GOV.UK on Anti-Slavery Day here.
The Solicitor General, Robert Buckland MP, answered: “The hon. Lady makes a very good point. The waste industry, car cleaning and such activities are clearly a focus for this type of unlawful behaviour. The police and the Crown Prosecution Service are indeed working with other agencies, but I take the particular point she makes and I will re-emphasise it to the CPS.”
Kerry McCarthy’s question was followed up by Conservative MP for Walsall North, Eddie Hughes, who asked what the CPS is doing to support and protect vulnerable people who have been the victims of crime in order to secure their valuable evidence. The Solicitor General replied: “My hon. Friend is absolutely right to talk about the victims. I have mentioned the decision to be made about the vulnerable victims of human trafficking. We have a particular mechanism that we use to protect the position of people who might otherwise be in the country unlawfully and to give them support so an informed decision to be made about their involvement in the process. I am confident that the CPS is working very hard always to improve its approach to victims.”