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2015 Report of the Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group on Modern Slavery

This is the fourth report published by the UK’s Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group (IDMG) on Modern Slavery. Since the publication of the group’s last update in October 2014, the UK Government, the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive have taken wideranging action to tackle modern slavery, including human trafficking.

Modern slavery remains a hidden crime but our understanding of its scale and nature is improving. Professor Bernard Silverman, the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Home Office, estimated that there were between 10,000 and 13,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK in 2013. The proportion of those victims who come to the attention of the State remains low but is steadily increasing – we expect this trend to continue, reflecting efforts to encourage victims to step forward.

New legislation to reinforce our response to modern slavery has been enacted across all UK jurisdictions during the past year. The UK Government has enacted and is bringing into force a landmark Modern Slavery Act that strengthens protection for victims of modern slavery and gives law enforcement the powers they need to bring the perpetrators to justice. The Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Executive have introduced legislation to ensure that similar victim support measures and law enforcement powers will be effective throughout the UK.

With the agreement of the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive, the UK Government has appointed Kevin Hyland OBE as the UK’s first Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner. Mr Hyland has published his first strategic plan this month and is already working to improve the operational response to modern slavery across the UK.

The Modern Slavery Act also requires all large companies operating in the UK (with a total turnover above £36m per year) to set out every year what steps they have taken to ensure that their supply chains and businesses are slaveryfree. The respective jurisdictions have agreed that this important measure should extend across the whole of the UK. The UK is the first country in the world to introduce such legislation. The IDMG believes this is an important step forward in our fight against modern slavery in the UK, and will support global efforts towards achieving the new UN Sustainable Development Goal to end modern slavery and human trafficking.

The final chapter of the report sets out how we plan to translate the progress we have made into an even stronger operational response that victims of modern slavery deserve. Our Governments will continue to work relentlessly to consign slavery to the history books, where it belongs.