Commenting on the arrests yesterday (November 7) in Gwent of three men alleged to have been involved in modern-day slavery, Mark Isherwood AM blasted the Welsh Labour Government for its lack of action.
The AM for North Wales – whose portfolio as Shadow Minister for Communities and Local Government includes modern-day slavery – said: “Thankfully, on this occasion the circumstances are not as tragic, and those rescued were cared for by the police and the British Red Cross. However, we simply have no concrete idea how many people in Wales might be victims of modern-day slavery.
“The approach of the Welsh Government has been lacklustre, and it’s just a fortnight since I spoke in the Welsh Parliament on modern-day slavery following the terrible deaths of 39 trafficked people – all confirmed to have come from Vietnam – in a refrigerated lorry.
“When I spoke then, I asked Ken Skates AM for an update on the Welsh Government's own Anti-Slavery Co-ordinator’s recent work. I suggested, too, that Mr Skates should meet with Kevin Hyland, who was the United Kingdom’s first Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and is acknowledged as one of the world’s experts on people trafficking and modern-day slavery.”
Mr Isherwood said that the response from Mr Skates was “weak”, adding:
“Then, Mr Skates said ‘… we will learn and apply lessons from this incident’. Well, the Welsh Government needs to be much more proactive than this, much more forceful. No-one wants to see even one more death in the UK, or anywhere, of a person who has been trafficked, and I want to see what proactive action will be taken here in Wales by the Welsh Government.”
The Modern Slavery Act came into force in 2015.
North Wales Police investigated 72 reports in the 12 months prior to September. Of the Victims dealt with by the police, 51 (71%) of reported offences were in relation to domestic servitude, six (8%) to facilitate travel and 15 (21%) forced labour, a report by North Wales Police said.
In the year to March 2019, police in England and Wales recorded 5,059 modern slavery offences, a 49% increase on the previous year. Police Scotland recorded 159 crimes for human trafficking and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) recorded 38 offences.