To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Every Child Protected Against Trafficking UK, Anti-Slavery International and the Pacific Links Foundation, Precarious Journeys: Mapping vulnerabilities of victims of trafficking from Vietnam to Europe, published 7 March, in particular its finding (1) that 1,127 Vietnamese children were arrested in the UK between 2012 and 2018, mostly for immigration and drug offences, despite the known risks of trafficking amongst this group, (2) in regard to the Government's identification and protection of Vietnamese victims and potential victims of trafficking, and (3) that rigid policies to control immigration and growing anti-immigration rhetoric throughout Europe and in the UK exacerbate the vulnerability of Vietnamese adults and children to trafficking and exploitation.
The Home Office welcomes the useful research by the Pacific Links Foundation, ECPAT and Anti-Slavery International, which was supported by the Home Office’s Modern Slavery Innovation Fund. The report contributes to the evidence base on modern slavery and we are taking the recommendations into consideration.
The decision to arrest is ultimately an operational decision; to support this decision making, the Government has invested in police training and awareness as part of the £11.6m Modern Slavery Police Transformation Programme investment so that officers are aware of the signs and indicators of victims encountered in the course of police duties, even if this is in relation to enforcement of drug legislation, for example. The s45 statutory defence introduced by the Modern Slavery Act 2015 provides further protection for victims forced to commit crimes such as cannabis cultivation.