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Victims and survivors of slavery deserve a truly international response

3 min read

Home Office Minister Sarah Newton writes for PoliticsHome to mark Anti-Slavery Day, announcing "a £8.5 million investment to transform the operational response to this complex crime."

Modern slavery is an appalling crime. Its perpetrators prey on the most vulnerable and voiceless in society, often subjecting them to horrific abuse and forcing them to live in extreme fear

There are around 13,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK, and over 45 million globally. Many slaves are hidden in plain sight. Some do not even self-identify as victims. I have met some of these survivors and heard their harrowing stories. Their experiences are what motivates me to continue to take action to stamp out slavery and ensure this Government achieves our goal to eradicate slavery in this country and overseas.

This Government has taken world-leading action to tackle this abuse. Last year we introduced the Modern Slavery Act which gave law enforcement new powers to tackle these crimes, introducing tougher sentences. We have strengthened the law enforcement response and achieved record numbers of prosecutions and convictions of slave-drivers and traffickers. We have increased support and protection for victims of slavery, and record high numbers of victims are now coming forward to receive the support they deserve. But we have a long way to go. The fight against slavery will take a generation, which means that we have no time to lose.

In addition to ensuring that victims of slavery have access to support, we must also target the criminals who exploit them. That is why the Prime Minister announced that she will chair a Modern Slavery Taskforce that will focus on strengthening the law enforcement response. That is why the Home Secretary has instructed Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of the Constabulary to carry out a detailed inspection of the police response, which will begin later this year. And that is why today we are announcing a £8.5 million investment to transform the operational response to this complex crime.

We want to bring the full power of the State to bear on the people who treat their fellow human beings as commodities, to be bought and sold, used and thrown away. Our message to slave-drivers and traffickers is clear: we are coming to get you and you will have nowhere to hide.

Slavery is a global issue and one of the greatest human rights issues of our time. Britain should be proud of what we have done to lead the way in eradicating this evil from society, and I am determined to continue this legacy. The Prime Minister recently announced a £33.5m fund to be used to prevent modern slavery in high-risk countries, from where victims are regularly trafficked to the UK. And in the months and years ahead, the UK will continue to work with other countries who share our values to lead a truly international response to slavery that adds up to more than the sum of its parts. The victims and survivors of slavery deserve nothing less.


Sarah Newton is the Minister for Vulnerability, Safeguarding and Countering Extremism  and Conservative MP for Truro and Falmouth

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