Statement in Response to Publication of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner’s Annual Report

The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Dame Sara Thornton, has published her Annual Report for 2020-2021. It outlines the Commissioner’s work so far to achieve her objectives as outlined in the Strategic Plan 2019-2021, within the four priority areas of: improving victim care and support; supporting law enforcement and prosecutions; focusing on prevention; and getting value from research and innovation.

Alison Lowe, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime in West Yorkshire, is also the chair of the National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network (NATMSN) and said:

“This is a welcome report which spells out the scale, breadth and complexity of the issues being faced. Now more than ever, do we need to work together in driving forward the momentum, ensuring no stone is left unturned in our efforts to confront modern day slavery.

“It really highlights the importance of working in partnership and acknowledges the positive developments achieved by many anti-slavery partnerships including the NATMSN, for which I am chair.

“It is acknowledged that the policing response to modern slavery continues to improve, however, prosecutions remain low and although some improvements have been made to support survivors through the criminal justice process, there needs to be a more consistent and trauma informed approach.

“There is still a great deal to do, particularly supporting and empowering victims, ensuring the voice of the survivor is at the heart of discussions with policy makers. The role of businesses is also vitally important in confronting modern slavery, particularly as the UK and the global economies recover from the pandemic.

“The report, for instance, pays specific reference to the risks of labour abuse within our supply chains. Here in West Yorkshire, we are addressing this through the Modern Slavery Act legislation, the scope of which will be broadened to include public sector bodies to examine their supply chains for slavery and exploitation.”