Media factsheet - Modern Slavery Act
The Home Secretary announced the Government’s New Plan for Immigration on 24 March 2021. The plan will deliver a fair, but firm system, with the following objectives:
- To increase the fairness and efficiency of our system so that we can better protect and support those in genuine need of asylum;
- To deter illegal entry into the UK, thereby breaking the business model of the criminal trafficking networks and protecting the lives of those that they endanger; and
- To remove more easily from the UK those with no right to be here, including Foreign National Offenders.
The full plan for consultation is set out here https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/new-plan-for-immigration.
It includes measures to support victims of modern slavery and a commitment to review the 2014 Modern Slavery Strategy.
With regards to modern slavery, the plan outlines the Home Office’s intention to consult on a broad set of measures that seek to:
- Identify victims as quickly as possible and enhance the support they receive, while distinguishing more effectively between genuine and vexatious accounts of modern slavery and enabling the removal of serious criminals and people who are a threat to the public and UK national security;
- Improve the training given to First Responders, who are responsible for referring victims into the NRM;
- Clarify the definition of “public order” to enable the UK to withhold protections afforded by the NRM where there is a link to serious criminality or a serious risk to UK national security;
- Strengthen our operational processes for considering Reasonable Grounds decisions and consult on clarifying the Reasonable Grounds threshold to ensure decision-makers can properly test any concerns that an individual is attempting to misuse the system;
- Fulfil our obligations under the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (ECAT) to continue to identify and protect genuine victims
About modern slavery
Modern slavery encompasses slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking. It is a heinous crime that the Government is committed to tackling; ensuring that victims are provided with the support they need to begin rebuilding their lives and that those responsible are prosecuted.
The UK is regarded as a world-leader for its response to modern slavery. The UK response is underpinned by the Modern Slavery Strategy 2014 and the Modern Slavery Act 2015, the first legislation of its kind.
This factsheet provides an overview of modern slavery and the Government’s response.
Transparency in supply chains
- Under the transparency in supply chains provision in the Modern Slavery Act, the UK is the first country in the world to require businesses to report on the steps they have taken to stamp out modern slavery in their supply chains.
- This landmark provision has driven a change in business culture, spotlighting modern slavery risks on boardroom agendas and within the international human rights community.
- In September 2020, the Government committed to taking forwards an ambitious package of changes to strengthen and future-proof the Modern Slavery Act’s transparency legislation, including:
- Extending the reporting requirement to public bodies with a budget of £36 million or more, a global first;
- Mandating the specific reporting topics statements must cover;
- Requiring organisations to publish their statement on the new Government digital reporting service;
- Setting a single reporting deadline on which all modern slavery statements must be published.
- In addition, in January 2021, the Government also committed to introduce financial penalties for organisation who fail to meet their legal obligation under Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act. These measures will require legislative change and will be introduced when parliamentary time allows.
- In March 2021, the Home Office launched an online modern slavery statement registry. The registry will enhance transparency by enabling investors, consumers and civil society to scrutinise the action different organisations are taking to prevent modern slavery and monitor progress over time.
- We have also published the world’s first Government modern slavery statement which sets out what action we have taken to prevent modern slavery in our supply chains. Ministerial departments will publish their own modern slavery statements in September 2021.
- We have developed the Modern Slavery Assessment Tool to strengthen our suppliers’ modern slavery due diligence. More than 1,500 organisations have completed the assessment since March 2019.
- The Modern Slavery Act 2015 gives law enforcement agencies the tools to tackle modern slavery, including maximum life sentences for perpetrators and enhanced protection for victims
- In 2020/21, the Home Office has allocated over £2million to fund the police under the new Modern Slavery and Organised Immigration Crime Programme. This funding has enabled us to support the police to drive forward work to increase modern slavery prosecutions and includes a new focus to build capability to respond to organised immigration crime.
- The number of live police operations has increased thanks to the provisions under the Act, from 188 police operations in December 2016 to at least 2,586 in February 2021
- There were 8,550 modern slavery offences recorded by police in the year to September 2020, an increase of 26% from the year to September 2019 (6,769 offences)
- The latest Crown Prosecution Service records for 2019 show:
- Completed prosecutions increased from 294 in 2018 to 349 in 2019 (increase of 17.1%).
- Convictions increased from 191 in 2018 to 251 in 2019 (increase of 27.1%).
- Conviction rate rose from 65% in 2018 to 71.9% in 2019 (increase of 6.9%).
- The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) continue to make progress using its powers under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) to investigate serious cases of labour exploitation. In 2019/20, the GLAA conducted over 226 operations, across a range of sectors.
The National Referral Mechanism (NRM)
- The NRM is the UK’s system for identifying and supporting victims of modern slavery.
- In 2020, 10,613 potential victimsof modern slavery were referred to the NRM, a similar number to 2019 (10,627). The plateau in referral numbers is primarily thought to result from the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions. NRM statistics are published by the Home Office
- A digital system has been built to support the NRM process, making it easier for those on the front line to refer victims into support by providing a single point for referrals across the UK. In August 2019 the digital referral form was launched following a successful closed-beta testing with a group of First Responders, followed by the launch of a digital case management system in January 2020.
- This integrated digital system is now used by all caseworkers in the Single Competent Authority when they make decisions on potential victims of modern slavery referred to the NRM.
- The Home Office is embarking on an ambitious NRM Transformation Programme to build on our world leading efforts to identify vulnerable victims and provide the support that they need to rebuild their lives. This will ensure that victims are safeguarded and supported based on their individual recovery need, with a focus on supporting the most vulnerable and making good use of existing access to mainstream services.
- In January 2021 the new Modern Slavery Victim Care Contract (MSVCC) went live in England and Wales. The MSVCC provides enhanced, tailored support to adult victims of modern slavery, including a new ‘reach-in’ service to provide post-NRM assistance supporting victim independence and a sustainable transition.
- The Government has announced a new inspection programme of the services for victims of modern slavery under the MSVCC, led by the Care Quality Commission.
- The Government has also published refreshed statutory guidance for England and Wales (under s49 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015) and non-statutory guidance for Scotland and Northern Ireland on identifying and supporting victims of modern slavery.
Support for children
- The Government is committed to providing specialist support for child victims. Independent Child Trafficking Guardians (ICTGs) are an additional source of advice and support for all potentially trafficked children, irrespective of nationality, and somebody who can advocate on their behalf. are an additional source of advice and support for all potentially trafficked children, irrespective of nationality, and somebody who can advocate on their behalf. are an additional source of advice and support for all potentially trafficked children, irrespective of nationality, and somebody who can advocate on their behalf.
- The ICTG service model provides one-to-one support for children who have no one with parental responsibility for them in the UK and an expert ICTG Regional Practice Co-ordinator for children where there is someone with parental responsibility for them in the UK.
- In July 2019, the Home Office, in conjunction with the University of Bedfordshire, published the final assessment of the ICTG service across the first three early adopter sites (Greater Manchester, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and nationally in Wales). The evaluation can be found here.
- An evaluation of the ICTG Regional Practice Co-ordinator (RPC), completed in conjunction with Ipsos MORI, was published in October 2020. The report assessed both how the RPC role has been delivered and the perceived impacts of the role, confirming the positive impact of the ICTG service on children. The assessment can be accessed here.
- The continued national roll-out of ICTGs is now being progressed as part of the NRM Transformation Programme, prioritising the areas of highest need.
- We will continue to review how the needs of individual children are best met at local level through the programme.
- ICTGs are additional to the statutory support provided to all vulnerable children by local authorities. In 2020/2021, the Government provided councils with an additional £1 billion for adult and children's social care, on top of the continuation of the £410 million social care grant.
The international response and preventing modern slavery
- The UK Government continues to be recognised as a world leader in its response to modern slavery. Its work includes UK Aid investment, including through the Home Office’s Modern Slavery Fund, as well as strategic work in neighbouring countries.
- The UK’s Call to Action to End Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking launched at the UN General Assembly in September 2017 has now been endorsed by over 90 countries. The UK continues to advocate for member states to take concerted action to fulfil the commitments and develop tailored national responses to meet United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 8.7, which seeks to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and eliminate the worst forms of child labour.
- The Government is investing £10 million to create a new Policy and Evidence Centre for Modern Slavery and Human Rights to transform the evidence base underpinning our policy response to modern slavery.
- The Centre is made up of leading academic institutions and brings together and commissions new and innovative research on modern slavery to enhance the evidence base and improve understanding of this rapidly evolving threat, targeting resources to key risks and vulnerabilities. This will significantly increase our ability to understand and prevent modern slavery happening in the first place, based on evidence and research.
*This fact sheet was updated on 26/03/2021