The Home Office has announced plans to launch an independent review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to ensure our world-first legislation keeps in step with this crime.
It comes as new Home Office research published reveals the devastating impact of modern slavery. The economic and social costs of modern slavery report estimates that it costs the UK up to £4.3 billion a year.
Each instance of the crime is estimated to cost around £330,000, including the cost of support, lost earnings and law enforcement but most significantly the physical and emotional harms suffered by individuals, who are often exploited over months and sometimes years. This places each modern slavery crime as second only to homicide in terms of harm to its victims and society.
The independent review aims to strengthen the UK’s ongoing response and accelerate progress from Government and businesses in eradicating modern slavery.
Key areas of focus for the review will be:
- developing an understanding on the nature of modern slavery offences
- the provisions around legal access
- compensation to victims
- improving the support given to child victims
The Modern Slavery Act, which is the first of its kind in the world, has helped to transform the UK’s response to modern slavery on a national and international scale by providing police and law enforcement agencies with the powers they need to bring perpetrators to justice and enhancing the protection given to victims. It has led to a significant uplift in law enforcement activity against the criminals behind this crime, with more than 600 live investigations currently taking place.
But the criminal networks that recruit and control victims are constantly adapting and finding new ways to exploit victims, and the commissioning of this independent review is an opportunity to enhance the UK’s legislation to effectively tackle this issue.
Legislation currently requires every business with an annual turnover of £36 million and over to publish a statement on its website outlining what it is doing to prevent and tackle modern slavery in its operations and supply chain. Another key focus of the review will be looking at what more can be done to strengthen this legislation and minimise the risk that the goods and services available in the UK are produced through forced labour and slavery.
The Home Office has also confirmed a £2 million extension of the Independent Child Trafficking Advocates (ICTAs) scheme, which works with trafficked children to ensure their best interests are met in any decision making by the public authorities involved in their care.