Statement from the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner (IASC): Government response to the Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act
The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Dame Sara Thornton, has commented on the Government response to the Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act:
“The Modern Slavery Act was ground-breaking legislation, and the Independent Review made many good recommendations to ensure that our approach continues to be world-leading.
The Review made important recommendations to strengthen our supply chains legislation and make modern slavery a business-critical issue. The Government has accepted the need for a central registry for modern slavery statements submitted by businesses. It is essential that this is developed at pace in order to provide transparency of these statements and to ensure that investors, the public and civil society can scrutinise the progress businesses are making. Recent criminal cases illustrate the enormous harm that victims of exploitation suffer and we must not miss this opportunity to prevent labour exploitation from taking place. The Reviewers suggested toughening the requirements for businesses by use of the Companies Act and I would hope that the Government will keep this under review.
The Government has rightly begun to look at its own supply chains and will consult on how best to bring the broader public sector within scope of the supply chains legislation. I fully support this and would want to see the Government and public authorities set an example.
The Review made important recommendations on my independence as Anti-Slavery Commissioner. I have agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Home Office to clarify respective roles and responsibilities, set out the budget process and the appointment of staff. A new advisory panel with a diverse range of stakeholders is informing and supporting my efforts to drive the UK’s response to modern slavery.
Independent Child Trafficking Guardians have provided a valuable support to many highly vulnerable children and I agree with the Reviewers that this needs to be extended nationally without unnecessary delay. I will be working with the Children’s Commissioners for England and Wales on a deep dive to monitor this support and ensure that all child victims of slavery are fully supported towards safety.
Finally, I welcome the Review’s examination of the legal application of the Modern Slavery Act and the statutory defence principle. Statutory defence is an essential component of our Modern Slavery Act, ensuring that our legislation is victim-centred. I will be working with criminal justice agencies to ensure that it is used appropriately and not abused.”
- Government commissioned Frank Field MP, Maria Miller MP and Baroness Butler-Sloss to run an independent review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to strengthen and enhance the current legislation as modern slavery evolves.
- The reviewers published findings on the role of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, the transparency in supply chains provisions, Independent Child Trafficking Advocates scheme and legal application of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
- The final report was published on 22 May on the reviewer's website and GOV.UK.
- The Government response to the final report was published on 9 July.
- Dame Sara Thornton was appointed the UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner in February 2019 by the Home Secretary Sajid Javid MP, and took up the role on 1 May 2019.
- The role of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner was created as one of the provisions of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. The Commissioner has a UK-wide remit to encourage good practice in the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of modern slavery offences and the identification of victims.
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