Human Trafficking


Continuation funding announced for Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre

The University of Hull’s Wilberforce Institute and its partners today announce continuation of funding for the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC).

The PEC is a consortium of six universities and Independent Research Organisations with a track record in world-class work on modern slavery. Continuation funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) will enable the Centre to build upon its impactful policy work, while supporting its move to a new host at Oxford University and the transition to long-term sustainability.

The Wilberforce Institute has been a core partner since the collaboration began in 2019, with the collective aim of enhancing understanding of modern slavery and transforming the effectiveness of laws and policies designed to address it.

Since then, the Centre has built a reputation for funding and producing high quality research, evidence and analysis focused on policy impact. Having funded over 50 research projects, the PEC has built a wealth of evidence with a strong record of influencing policy and practice.

The Wilberforce Institute has delivered substantial research work packages for the Centre including a recent project, led by Dr Zahra Shirgholami to identity systemic oppression in relation to responses to modern slavery and the value of ‘cultural competency’.

Other research led by the Institute’s Dr Alicia Heys examined the impact of legislation including Section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act and the use of statutory defence for those compelled to commit a crime though their experience of modern slavery.

Professor Trevor Burnard, Director of the University of Hull’s Wilberforce Institute, said: “We are pleased to continue as a core partner of the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre. We place our extensive work on modern slavery in the context of a deep understanding of historical slavery and the legacies of slavery in contemporary society.

“We are therefore particularly pleased to see the Centre continue to be funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and move to the Humanities Division at Oxford. We look forward to continuing to play an important part in demonstrating what a humanities-led approach to policy work on modern slavery looks like in practice.”

Murray Hunt, Director of the Modern Slavery and Human Rights PEC, added: “The PEC has established itself as a recognised UK centre of excellence for research and evidence to inform UK policy on modern slavery. We have ambitious plans to grow and develop over the next few years to become a permanent feature in the human rights research and policy landscape both in the UK and globally.”

Eleanor Lyons, Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, said: “A key part of my role as Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner is undertaking and supporting research. I am looking forward to continuing my collaboration with the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre, to collectively improve understanding of modern slavery in the UK and inform policymaking with evidence and data.”

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