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2016 Report of the Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group on Modern Slavery

This report provides an assessment of modern slavery in the UK and explains how the UK has responded to this threat over the past 12 months. The Inter Departmental Ministerial Group (IDMG) comprises representatives from the UK Government, the Northern Ireland Executive, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government. All IDMG members have approved the contents of this report.


‘Modern slavery’ is an umbrella term that covers the offences of human trafficking, slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour. The IDMG group was initially set up in 2011 to act as the national rapporteur for the UK, as required by Article 19 of the EU Directive on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings. As such, IDMG’s first two reports referred to the issue of human trafficking.

The 2015 and 2016 IDMG reports cover modern slavery as a whole, without distinguishing between its constituent elements. This is because the exploitative behaviours involved in committing the crimes of human trafficking and slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour are often similar, as is the operational response to these crimes. Assessment of Modern Slavery in the UK

Modern slavery is a hidden crime, which means it is challenging to accurately measure its scale and nature. Victims are often unable to report their suffering or may feel too traumatised to do so even when the opportunity arises.

In 2014, the Home Office estimated there were between 10,000 and 13,000 potential victims of modern slavery in the UK. A small but growing proportion of potential victims come into contact with the state. There have been year-on-year increases in the number of potential victims identified in the UK. The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) – the UK’s framework for referring and supporting victims – received 3,266 referrals of potential victims in 2015 (a 40% increase on 2014). We believe that these increases are the result of improved awareness of modern slavery and the increased focus of law enforcement on this crime, while also demonstrating that we still have much to do to shine a light on modern slavery and bring the perpetrators of these appalling crimes to justice.

We are also developing a better understanding of potential victims of modern slavery who do not wish to receive support, through new requirements for specified public bodies to notify the Government about potential victims they encounter. Between 1 November 2015 and 31 July 2016, the Government received notifications of 427 potential victims of modern slavery in England and Wales. Similar duty to notify provisions will shortly be in place in Scotland and Northern Ireland. In addition, following the introduction of a separate modern slavery crime recording category, in the year to March 2016, police in England and Wales recorded 884 modern slavery crimes. In 2015, Police Scotland recorded 26 modern slavery crimes and Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) recorded 59 modern slavery crimes.