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anti - slavery day

18 October 2018

Parliament introduced the day to:

  • acknowledge that today millions of people (including an estimated 5 million children) continue to be victims of slavery, human trafficking and exploitation - tens of thousands of who work in the UK;
  • raise awareness of the dangers and consequences of these inhumane crimes; and
  • draw attention to the progress made to eradicate modern slavery and focus on what more needs to be done.

Research published this summer by the Home Office estimates that modern slavery costs the UK as much as £4.3 billion every year. Every instance of these crimes costs approximately £330,000 in support, lost earnings and law enforcement, second only to homicide. According to research, last year the British public bought £14 billion of goods made by slaves, in the UK and overseas - to say nothing of the “services” they provided.

This summer the Home Office announced an independent review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to consider what else can be done to strengthen the legislation and keep pace with this organised crime. It is generally agreed that laws which require in scope organisations to publish a slavery and human trafficking statement annually, on an ongoing basis, are ignored or inadequately observed by many of them. Organisations sometimes don’t realise that they should retain their prior years’ statements on their website (so interested parties can track progress year on year) and tend to adopt a tick box approach to compliance – rather than looking to embed best practice more widely.      

Whether we Brexit with an agreement or without one the consistent message we hear from UK law enforcement agencies is that a dramatic consequence of our departure from the EU is likely to be a sharp, long-term and significant increase in slavery, human trafficking and exploitation across the UK.    

As a consumer of goods or services or as a supplier of either, it is a pertinent day to ask ourselves what more can we do to tackle modern slavery both here and abroad.

Written by Raymond Silverstein and Emma Grant

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