Government announce new £10M research base to tackle of modern slavery

Efforts to tackle and uncover the scale of modern slavery and trafficking have received a £10 million Government boost to build a new research base.

Funded by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Strategic Priorities Fund and led by the body’s arts and humanities research council, it aims to drive new studies and share knowledge, the Home Office said.

Representing UKRI, Professor Andrew Thompson (pictured) said the Modern Slavery Policy Centre will bring together researchers, policy makers, businesses, non-governmental organisations and victims for the first time on a scale not seen before.

“The centre will seek out solutions to this dehumanising and abhorrent crime by mobilising world-class research from the arts, humanities, social sciences and beyond,” he said.

“The centre will provide new independent, impartial insight and analysis into the causes and consequences of modern slavery – speaking to questions of prevention, enforcement, supply chains, victims’ recovery and survivor needs.”

Under the Modern Slavery Act, large businesses have a duty to be open about their efforts to cut out abuse from their supply chains.

The centre announcement comes as the Government published its response to the independent review of the act, and launched a consultation on transparency enhancing proposals.

These include requiring businesses to publish a statement setting out what they are doing to tackle modern slavery and forced labour in their supply chains here in the UK and abroad, as well as expanding the law to cover the public sector.

The Modern Slavery Act was introduced in 2015 by then home secretary Theresa May to enhance support and protection for victims and ensure perpetrators are brought to justice.

Modern slavery encompasses a broad range of offending including exploitation, forced labour, domestic servitude and human trafficking.

The review which was published in May urged ministers to act “quickly and effectively” to implement some 80 recommendations across four areas.

These included the role of the independent anti-slavery commissioner, transparency in supply chains, independent child trafficking advocates and the legal application of the act.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “More than a 100 years ago the world condemned slavery to the history books, but the stark reality for around 40 million men, women and children is that they are still trapped in modern slavery.

“As both home secretary and Prime Minister I have endeavoured to shine a light on this hidden crime, to speak out for victims and put modern slavery firmly on the domestic and international agenda.

“There is much we can be proud of in our progress so far, but we need to accelerate our efforts, better share knowledge and build on our expertise.

“That is why we commissioned an independent review of the Modern Slavery Act to ensure our laws are keeping pace with the rapidly evolving nature of these crimes, and why I am pleased to support new, innovative research to inform global efforts to end this barbaric crime by 2030.”

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