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Christian charity calls for frontline improvements to tackle human trafficking

CARE (Christian Action Research and Education) is calling for a more joined-up approach from the government to combat human trafficking in the UK.

It's after a major new study by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) described ministers as "clueless" in their response to tackling modern slavery.

The study also heaped criticism on police and social workers, suggesting they were part of a "shocking" failure to prevent the spread of it.

More than 1,000 trafficking victims were rescued last year, including a significant number of British children, yet the study says these figures only represent the tip of the iceberg due to a "shambolic identification system".

CSJ report also condemns the "inadequate" response of the government, and calls for a radical overhaul of measures to combat 21st Century slavery.

It wants responsibility for leading the fight against slavery urgently switched to the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice and away from the Minister for Immigration, to reflect the fact the problem is primarily a criminal matter and not one of immigration control.

The report also calls for the appointment of an Anti-Slavery Commissioner, modelled on the existing Children's Commissioner.

It's hoped this will lead a concerted counter-offensive against those depriving vulnerable people of their liberty to force them to work as servants or labourers or to sell them for sex.

This role would also have responsibility for holding Government to account.

Louise Gleich, human trafficking and sexual exploitation policy officer at CARE, told Premier's Marcus Jones during the News Hour that the issue's not being taken seriously at many levels.

The CSJ investigation "It Happens Here" said it discovered a litany of cases where adults and children are trafficked into and within the UK and subjected to forced labour, sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and forced criminality (which includes benefit fraud, forced begging or pick-pocketing and drug cultivation).

CSJ is also issuing a call for businesses to do more to eradicate slavery. It urges Parliament to enact the Transparency in UK Company Supply Chains (Eradication of Slavery) Bill, which was drafted in partnership with Unseen.

CSJ said this will require companies with a turnover of more than £100m per annum to publicly disclose the efforts they are making to ensure that their supply and product chains and business practices are free from modern slavery.

A government spokesman said: "Human trafficking is abhorrent and the UK government is committed to combating this crime in all its forms.

"We have already made significant progress in the fight against trafficking through the government's Human Trafficking Strategy and will demonstrate compliance with the EU directive by 6 April 2013."

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