Deputy Children’s Commissioner appointed to anti-slavery role

A new Anti-Slavery Commissioner has been announced after 18 months of the role being vacant.

Eleanor Lyons, who is the current deputy Children’s Commissioner for England, has been appointed to take on the job of leading efforts to prevent, detect and prosecute modern slavery offences across the country.

Ms Lyons (pictured) will take up the role from December 11 for a fixed term of three years.

She said she is “committed to a victim-centric approach” and will work to ensure survivors’ experiences “inform my work to effect meaningful change”.

There had been criticism of the Government from the previous post-holder for leaving the role unfilled for so long.

It has been vacant since Dame Sara Thornton finished her term in April 2022.

Earlier this year, speaking during a session of the Home Affairs Committee’s inquiry into human trafficking, Dame Sara described the failure to find someone to replace her as “deeply regrettable” and suggested there could be a conflict of interest with the Home Office being in charge of the appointment.

Ex-prime minister Theresa May, who as home secretary led the passage of the Modern Slavery Act which established the post, had also previously questioned when the role would be filled.

The Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner (IASC) is an independent monitoring body of the Home Office.

Modern slavery can consist of slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking, with victims unable to escape their situation of exploitation generally due to threats, punishment, violence, coercion and deception.

Congratulating Ms Lyons, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said she will “provide tremendous insight and expertise as she takes up this role”.

Ms Lyons said: “Modern slavery and human trafficking are abhorrent crimes. Our response must be focused on prosecuting those responsible, preventing further exploitation and protecting victims, particularly those least often heard.

“The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner was created to drive efforts forward and encourage best practice across the UK.

“I look forward to working constructively with stakeholders and building on the progress that has been made since the role was created. I am committed to a victim-centric approach and to ensuring that survivors’ experiences inform my work to effect meaningful change.”

Ms Lyons, who will finish her role current role as deputy Children’s Commissioner before beginning her anti-slavery role, was previously special adviser to the prime minister, defence secretary and chief whip between November 2017 and August 2019.

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