UPDATE: This campaign was successful - the Anti-Trafficking Commissioner was introduced in the Modern Slavery Act 2015. The campaign is now closed. Thank you to everyone who joined our Three Small Steps campaign and played a part in the success of this campaign.

As part of its Three Small Steps campaign to protect child victims of trafficking, ECPAT UK called for the appointment of an independent Anti-Trafficking Commissioner to establish an independent mechanism that ensures the systematic collection, monitoring and analysis of comprehensive and disaggregated data, and accountability to Parliament. This mechanism should perform the functions of an independent National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking, with a specific focus on children.

Why?

Both the 2005 Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and the 2011 EU Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims call on Member States to appoint national rapporteurs or equivalent mechanisms to assess trends in human trafficking, monitor and measure the anti-trafficking activities of State institutions, gather statistics and report on their findings.

In establishing an Anti-Traficking Commissioner, to fulfil the function of an independent national rapporteur in the UK, the following factors must be considered.

1. An Anti-Trafficking Commissioner has to be independent of government to be fully effective. The success of the National Rapporteur in the Netherlands is attributable to the post’s independence from the Dutch Government, which enables the post holder to objectively analyse emerging trends in human trafficking and the effectiveness of the polices implemented to tackle them. By creating this robust tool to provide feedback on Government policy, the Dutch Government has demonstrated its determination to achieve tangible results in tackling human trafficking.

2. An Anti-Trafficking Commissioner in the UK would help address the current lack of reliable information on the scale and nature of trafficking into and within the country. In relation to children, the collection of sufficient and reliable data on child victims of trafficking is vital to understanding how to protect them. An independent Commissioner with a remit to gather quantitative and qualitative data from a range of sources would help to fill the significant knowledge gaps that currently hinder the fight against human trafficking. 

3. An independent Anti-Trafficking Commissioner is necessary to ensure that the Government’s progress in implementing anti-trafficking measures is objectively assessed, to identify problems and to inform all policy development on human trafficking. Since 2000, the Dutch National Rapporteur has made over 200 recommendations to the Dutch Government on subjects including legislation, immigration policy, the identification of and help for victims, the prosecution and trial of offenders, international cooperation and prevention. Many of these recommendations have been adopted by the Dutch Government and have led to significant improvements in policy.

The Government's position

The Government currently believes that the existing Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group on Human Trafficking (IDMG) fulfils the role of a national rapporteur.

On 8 February 2012, during a debate in Westminster, the Minister for Immigration said a national rapporteur would be a "fifth wheel on a coach", but stated his intention to make some improvements to the IDMG. While these are to be welcomed, they still will not make the IDMG compatible with the role of a national rapporteur. 

The IDMG is made up largely of Government ministers and assists in co-ordinating and implementing Government policy on human trafficking. Therefore ECPAT UK believes it cannot objectively monitor and analyse the Government’s work to combat trafficking. Furthermore, the IDMG does not collect statistics or produce reports, only meets twice a year and is not well attended.