Dame Sara Thornton welcomes Justice and Care and Centre for Social Justice report


A new report by the Centre for Social Justice and Justice and Care explores the progress of the UK’s response to modern slavery and identifies the key challenges faced by frontline professionals. It builds on the 2020 report It Still Happens Here focussing on adult victims in the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) and support provided in England and Wales under the Modern Slavery Victim Care Contract.


Read the full report: A Path to Freedom and Justice: a new vision for supporting victims of modern slavery


Dame Sara Thornton, Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, said:

"I welcome this comprehensive report by Justice and Care and the Centre for Social Justice which emphasises the importance of bringing modern slavery and human trafficking offenders to justice, the central role of criminal investigation and the value of Victim Navigators providing dedicated independent support to victims while working side by side with the police.

The report also reveals the increasingly lengthy delays in Home Office Single Competent Authority decision making for victims of trafficking, with some people still waiting for decisions in cases reaching back at least as far as 2016. These delays can have a significant impact on those individuals who are waiting for a decision on their trafficking status decisions, including on their mental health, as well as leaving them at risk of further harm and exploitation. Since my appointment, I have repeatedly raised my concerns about the timeliness of NRM decisions with both Ministers and officials.

“I have publicly called for NRM decisions for children to be made locally by local safeguarding partners. In 2020 my office published a review with the charity ECPAT UK into what works in multi-agency decision making to help inform Home Office thinking on a potential pilot for devolved NRM decision making for children. Since then a devolved child decision-making pilot programme has been rolled out to 10 local authorities areas across the UK. While the programme and associated evaluation are still underway, feedback so far has been encouraging.

“The evidence in this report however demands a more radical recommendation to end the role of the Home Office Single Competent Authority in decisions about most trafficking victims. It is time to move away from a centralised approach which is clearly failing victims. These decisions should be made locally by multi-disciplinary teams who have the expertise and knowledge.”