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Up to 40 million people in the world 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. Slavery is a crime everywhere punishable by severe penalties, yet the problem remains and is growing. 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 is transformative legislation to underpin 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 supply chains and from their business practice. 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 in severity. Knowledge of its requirements is also becoming increasingly vital for a range of professionals, notably in the law, but also in affiliated areas, and for individuals as well as organisations.
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. They need to not only understand and interpret the legislation, but also the complex dynamics and relationships between victims, perpetrators and their environments that enable patterns of modern slavery to continue.
Our vision is a global community free from modern slavery where people feel empowered to strive for change.
Using knowledge exchange, teaching and research we want to bridge the gaps that exist between law, policy, and practice, so all people have fair and equal access to their rights.
Working in partnership is the most effective way to learn and make a change. We want to enhance collaboration and connectedness in the sector so all those with a legal or moral duty to act have access to the latest knowledge and best practice.
We want a fairer world for all that is brought about by effective and sustainable policy change and robust legal frameworks.
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.