Response to Modern Day Slavery Annual Report 2019-20
The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Dame Sara Thornton, has published her Annual Report for 2019-2020.
It outlines the work so far to achieve the objectives as outlined in the Strategic Plan 2019-2021, within the four priority areas of: improving victim care and support; supporting law enforcement and prosecutions; focusing on prevention; and getting value from research and innovation.
West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and National APCC Lead on Modern Slavery, Mark Burns-Williamson OBE said:
“It is encouraging to see that there has been an extensive amount of engagement taking place among partners in response to the scourge of Modern Day Slavery.
“This is an issue, which I am personally committed to tackling and I have campaigned both locally and nationally for many years to raise awareness of the signs.
“However, as the report makes clear, it remains a very real and ongoing threat to our communities and there are still gaps and challenges in the system that must be better identified to improve our collective response.
“There is quite rightly a heavy focus on the need for collaboration across key stakeholders, businesses, organisations and the public to build the necessary resilience that will help us to eradicate modern day slavery, especially in supply chains.
“It was only in July that I commented on the findings of the ‘It Still Happens Here’ report and many of the same themes are again repeated here and contained within this report.
“I said then that there needs to be additional survivor rights and more stringent laws to remove the opportunities from the perpetrators of these terrible crimes.
“Although we can see from this latest report that more victims are being identified and safeguarded, there are still flaws that must be addressed. In particular, the long delays for National Referral Mechanism (NRM) decisions for victims receiving support through the Government Victim Care Contract, and I will continue to lobby with others for a better service in respect of this. It can have a significant impact on the wellbeing of victims and more needs to be done to aid in their long-term recovery.
“There is acknowledgment of the positive impact of the Modern Slavery Organised Immigration Crime Programme (MSOICP) in regards to its leadership and coordination, for which I am a member of the strategic oversight board. Strategic Leadership is crucially important to affect the necessary changes, as the report identifies.
“Police forces are recognised as doing more and the number of police operations has increased significantly, which is what we want to see, but the use of offences under the Modern Slavery Act are still too low, as are prosecution rates.
“It is an issue that I have flagged across the national Modern Day Slavery Network that includes other Police and Crime Commissioners and key stakeholders.
“Training and awareness in the wider criminal justice network must also play a bigger role and I have suggested to Dame Sara Thornton that more productive conversations could be had through the Local Criminal Justice Boards (LCJBs) chaired by PCCs to effect more positive outcomes.”