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William Wilberforce’s heirs are ready to tackle the great evil of the age

By Fraser Nelson, Telegraph

Britain helped stamp out slavery once – now Theresa May is trying to do the same again

William Wilberforce[...]  The picture of slavery in modern Britain exists in fragments, scattered around the news pages, so horrific and anachronistic that you can barely discern a pattern. The first problem is terminological. If Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson had spent the 1780s mumbling about “human trafficking”, it’s unlikely that anyone would have paid attention. It was Barack Obama who said last year that it was time to call modern slavery by its name. If girls are being forced into domestic service and beaten if they try to leave, it’s slavery. If Lithuanian workers are being kept in debt bondage working on a Kent chicken farm, that’s slavery.

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), on whose advisory board I sit, has compiled a devastating dossier full of such examples. It also took evidence from police and social workers who explained why they lack the basic tools to tackle it. Yes, human trafficking is illegal – but the laws are so fragmented that its victims fall between the gaps. Social workers often have no idea how to recognise, let alone treat, modern-day slaves. It is estimated that local authorities lose track of three in every five who go into their care. The police, the lawyers and the Crown Prosecution Service seem utterly bamboozled.

Take, for example, a case two years ago of an unnamed Vietnamese teenager who was tricked into working in Britain to pay off a loan – and found himself in debt bondage. When he was discovered in a house in Bristol by police on a drugs raid, he explained to officers that he’d been smuggled into Britain in a freezer container, then made to work growing cannabis. He was charged with drug cultivation, sentenced to 12 months and released into local authority care. He promptly vanished, and is assumed to have been taken back into slavery.

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