Children Being Exploited To Commit Crimes According To Anti-Slavery Commissioner
The UK’s anti-slavery commissioner, Kevin Hyland, has warned that children are being exploited and used as Oliver Twist style criminals to pickpocket, shoplift, and commit a range of other crimes. The commissioner has said that while many people believed that such activities were a thing of the past, they are alive and well in the modern age, but that the government has done a good job of highlighting the problem.
The Modern Slavery Act was introduced earlier this year, and part of the purview of Mr Hyland is to find ways in which to prosecute those behind child slavery rings and the people that are leading children and using them to commit crimes. The Home Office released figures last December which suggested as many as 10,000 victims of slavery may be being used in this way, highlighting the true extent of the problem.
Mr Hyland’s position of Anti-Slavery Commissioner was introduced as part of the 2015 Act, and his remit includes ensuring that the public is made aware of the problem of modern slavery. It is also his job to identify ways in which perpetrators can be discovered, investigated, and caught, while working with police and other agencies, presumably including the NCA, to help bring them to justice.
Although the Bill was seen as a generally positive move, a number of professionals in the field criticised it for its lack of protection of the victims. Groups argued that while victims are not afforded an appropriate degree of protection, it means that others are less likely to come forward, and it is already difficult enough for victims to report offences to the police, due to the very nature of slavery.
New rules mean that traffickers and modern day slavers can face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, while any offender that already has a conviction for sex offences or violent offences will receive an automatic life prison sentence. Trafficking Prevention Orders were also introduced in a bid to try and stop those convicted of committing further offences, and it is the responsibility of My Hyland to oversee the new Act, which consolidates all related offences.