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Ongoing project

The Justice Hub

Educating stakeholders to better use and enforce the Modern Slavery Act (2015)

Project summary

The Challenge

There is a lack of understanding of the complex dynamics and relationships between modern slavery victims, perpetrators and their environments.

The Approach

The Justice Hub facilitates engagement with a range of stakeholders to share research, strategies and experience of applying the Modern Slavery Act.

The Outcome

Professionals are engaging with academics and benefiting from teaching and resources, in order to better understand and use the Modern Slavery Act.

Lead researchers

The Challenge

Up to 40 million people are held in forms of modern slavery. Over 10,000 people were officially identified as potential victims of Modern Slavery in the UK in 2020. If Britain could abolish slavery in the 19th century when so many directly benefitted, we believe that we can do more to combat it now when all agree that it is an abhorrent crime.

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 was transformative legislation which underpins how businesses and organisations must conduct themselves to eradicate modern slavery. The critical feature of the Act is that businesses now have a legal and moral responsibility to demonstrate efforts to eradicate slavery from their organisations and supply chains. Penalties apply to businesses that fail to comply. Prosecutions for perpetrators of modern slavery under the Act, although limited to date, are increasing in both number and severity. 

Knowledge of the requirements of the Act, is becoming increasingly vital for a range of professionals, notably in the law, but also in affiliated areas, and for individuals as well as organisations.
Andrew Smith New

Andrew Smith

The Justice Hub - Manager

In the UK, companies turning over £36 million-plus are legally required to publish a slavery and human trafficking statement every year. Yet the fast-paced global marketplace means legitimate industries are unknowingly entangled in illegal trade, and the quality of these statements varies massively. Despite recommendations made by Caroline Haughey QC in her first-year review of the Act in 2016 and the Independent Review headed by Frank Field MP in 2019, adequate training is still not being provided to professionals working in these complex areas.

Professionals need to understand and interpret not only the legislation, but also the complex dynamics and relationships between victims, perpetrators and their environments that enable patterns of modern slavery to continue. Getting to grips with this complex legislation is challenging and needs additional expertise within the justice system, as well as insight and support for those working to support victims.

The Approach

Our values:

  • Diverse – we embrace diversity and are committed to ensuring we take an inclusive approach to tackling modern slavery that values all voices.
  • Connected – we strive to collaborate across all sectors and at all levels. A partnership approach is the best way to combat modern slavery.
  • Innovative – innovation is at the heart of what we do. By using innovative research and knowledge exchange methods we champion engaging and interactive learning.
  • Impactful – by being innovative and collaborative we can ensure we make an impact that is both measurable and long term.
  • Committed – we are acting to bring about real change so that our global community can be a safer and fairer place for all people.

The Justice Hub is a Wilberforce Institute and University of Hull Alumni funded project that seeks to combat modern slavery by using research and knowledge exchange to engage and empower people to create a culture of change for good. Based at the University of Hull’s Wilberforce Institute, the Justice Hub has been created to educate stakeholders to better use and enforce the Modern Slavery Act. Our aim is to enable people to use the law so that together we combat the evil of modern slavery. The Justice Hub facilitates engagement with a range of current and potential stakeholders to share research, strategies and experience of applying the Modern Slavery Act.

Modern Slavery - Bandaged fingers with torn fabric

In providing leadership, expertise, in-kind resources, and practical support, the Wilberforce Institute and the University of Hull can strengthen the knowledge and expertise of lawyers, enabling them to apply the law successfully. We are also developing training and practical toolkits for a wide range of business and civic organisations. The Justice Hub aims to raise awareness of, and compliance with, UK legislation, ensuring it is better understood and enforced. Sharing the motives and ambitions of 19th-century abolitionists, we will inform and educate people to apply the law, so that it is used to better support those it was designed to protect.

Our mission is to use knowledge exchange, education, and research to raise awareness of, and compliance with, the Modern Slavery Act 2015, ensuring it is better understood and enforced. We will inform and educate people to apply the law so that it is used to better support those it was designed to protect. We want to bridge the gaps that exist between law, policy, and practice, so all people have fair and equal access to their rights.

Our vision is a global community free from modern slavery where people feel empowered to strive for change. Working in partnership is the most effective way to learn and make a change. The Justice Hub have access to the latest knowledge and best practice. By enhancing collaboration and connectedness in the sector, we are supporting those with a legal or moral duty to act. We want a fairer world for all that is brought about by effective and sustainable policy change and robust legal frameworks.

Modern slavery - Workers in a line walking down a field

Founded on research and evidence, the Justice Hub educates professionals on:

  • Different types of modern slavery.
  • The pattern of recruitment, coercion and control of victims.
  • Trafficking routes, source and destination countries.
  • Practice developments in the field of law enforcement.
  • Developments in the application of the act and cooperative working between agencies and countries.
  • Rapid access to new research and briefings.

The Justice Hub draws on expertise, networks and evidence from the Wilberforce Institute’s involvement with the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy Evidence Centre and Humber Modern Slavery Partnership. The focus is on areas where modern slavery is known to flourish; trafficking of children, labour exploitation in agriculture, small businesses, construction, beauty, and manufacturing.

The Impact

The Justice Hub:

  • Promotes social justice as part of the University of Hull Strategy 2030.
  • Encourages Knowledge Exchange within the University and with our partners.
  • Creates wider awareness of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
  • Helps stakeholders to interpret, apply and test the legislation through Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses and other training activities.
  • Supports organisations to build a better understanding of and compliance with the law.
  • Works towards businesses and supply chains achieving  a better understanding of and compliance with the law.

Practitioners in law, associated professionals and interested parties are engaging with academics and focusing on areas where modern slavery is known to flourish. We are building an interactive database online and providing access to evidence and resources needed. The Justice Hub links practitioners with each other in order to share knowledge and experience as the new legislation is tested over time.

Resources

We are currently developing our online e-learning CPD modules on key provisions of the Act.  These will be available to a range of statutory and non-statutory stakeholders.

Full details will soon be available.  Please email wilberforce@hull.ac.uk for more information. 

We are also releasing a seven-part podcast series,  Key Provisions of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (UK). 

Listen to the first episodes here:

Episode 1: Introducing the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (UK)

Episode 2: Section 45 - The Statutory Defence for Victims 

Episode 3: Section 54 - Transparency in Supply Chains