McCallister Calls For National Crime Agency To Tackle Human Trafficking

As the Northern Ireland Assembly passed two legislative consent motions to enact aspects of Westminster’s Serious Crime Bill and Modern Slavery Bill in Northern Ireland on Monday 8 December 2014, John McCallister MLA, Independent Unionist for South Down, has criticised those parties who are standing in the way of the National Crime Agency (NCA), saying they are letting down victims of human trafficking and organised crime.

[caption id="attachment_52191" align="alignright" width="300"]South Down Independent Unionist John McCallister South Down Independent Unionist John McCallister[/caption]

In a statement Mr McCallister said: “Today the Assembly passed two motions which will improve the law concerning serious crime and human trafficking in Northern Ireland. However, the body best placed to hold criminals to account under these new laws is still being blocked. In stopping the NCA from tackling human trafficking and organised crime, Sinn Fein and the SDLP are letting victims down and placing increased and unnecessary pressure on the PSNI.

“We have the bizarre situation where Mark Durkan MP, has, to his credit, been working hard in Westminster to improve the Modern Slavery Bill, but in Northern Ireland his party is blocking the Agency which could catch criminals involved in such activities.

“The point of the Modern Slavery Bill is to make it easier to prosecute the organised criminals behind the majority of modern slavery, ensure slave drivers receive tougher sentences and improve the protection of victims. However, without a dedicated agency focused on catching these people, new legal powers will have little impact here.

“The PSNI is facing serious cuts and by passing new laws without the NCA we are merely placing more pressures upon an increasingly stretched police service.

“In South Down and across Northern Ireland people want strong local policing to remain in place – they will be concerned by the budget cuts and the inability of the Executive parties to gain agreement on the NCA.

“A recent NCA report revealed a 22% rise in potential victims of human trafficking – this includes children. For the sake of those victims, agreement on any remaining accountability issues surrounding the NCA must be resolved immediately.”