The speech by Amber Rudd on Tuesday at the Conservative Party conference (the photo was from another event) has been picked apart by a number of commentators, focusing primarily on her comments about immigration. However there were many other themes in her piece to the conference and frankly the way she spoke about a number of them seemed to suggest we were doing better than we are, in some cases bending the real picture in a way that most people would call being dishonest. It is vital that we don’t just move on from such things and leave them to the Politicians and Professionals. The text of her speech is available here thanks to the Spectator magazine.
Amber Rudd referred to the efforts by Theresa May to combat slavery and human trafficking, specifically focusing on the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 which Theresa May sponsored. Ms Rudd seemed to think this showed Theresa May in a good light, yet as I wrote in 2013 Mrs May took many years to pick this issue up, despite being lobbied by many charities who had dedicated themselves to combat this terrible activity. Despite their hard work Mrs May and David Cameron refused to sign at least one International directive on Trafficking when they first came into Government. Ms Rudd went on to say “As a country, we HAVE to wake up to the reality of modern slavery … and we WILL continue to lead the global fight to eradicate it.” It may be true that we are now, after all this time punching above our weight in certain areas, but the real issue is how to ensure that in all communities the words of Kevin Hyland, the Anti Slavery Commissioner (a post established by the Act) are acted upon
I see cases where I’m meeting victims and hear their cases have not been investigated properly. These are things that really need to change, what’s really worrying is the numbers of investigations aren’t sufficiently high. The reason why people are choosing this form of criminality is because there aren’t the resources tackling it.
Hyland wants police forces to make dealing with slavery, “one of the highest priorities” and it is Amber Rudd who now has the power to make that a reality!
She then moved on to the theme of childhood sexual abuse saying “in that spirit, we should be deeply angry when our children are failed by government agencies” which of course is a totally reasonable thing for anyone to say, but when you are the Home Secretary it is you who needs to take responsibility for Government failures, not simply get angry that the local Councils which have been highlighted have somehow let you down. Determined to end on a high note she finished that section with “As a country, we have led the global effort in responding to the online threat of child sexual exploitation.” Again that may be the case, but we need to ensure that in local settings, the professional agencies such as the Police and Social Services listen and learn from their potential partners in the voluntary sector, rather than treating them as amateurs who need not be acknowledged.
My final reflection for this blog was on the next theme that emerged, when Ms Rudd stated without a hint of embarrasment or irony “There are vulnerable, unaccompanied children in Calais at risk of people trafficking and abuse. Where those children have a relative in the UK, or it is in their best interests to come to the UK, we are doing all we can to bring them over here.” That is simply not true, the idea that the 368 children according to one source are being sped through the system to get them into the UK and away from danger in the Jungle camp is pure fantasy. The Home Office and other bureaucratic agencies seem if anything to be resisting this process, not aiding it. It is fine to make speeches, but what we need is action!