It is with a somewhat heavy heart that I have recently written to - and met personally with - the Prime Minister to advise her I have decided to end my term as the UK’s first Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner this summer to take up a new role in international development.
I am hugely proud to have been entrusted with the job of being the UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and humbled to have worked with such inspiring survivors and outstanding partners. Over the last four years the NGO, private sector and governmental partners with whom I have worked domestically and internationally have taken enormous strides to improve the lives of victims and to move towards systems that simply will not tolerate the heinous abuses of modern slavery. Much work remains, but I depart knowing that awareness both at the highest level and at that critical working level has never been greater. I am equally sure that the United Kingdom has moved into a role of thought leader and seminal actor on modern slavery.
As the inaugural incumbent in a unique role there have predictably been some learning points for all around the precise nature of the independence set by the founding legislation, but I leave the role confident that my successor can only benefit from this learning.
Amongst the office’s proudest achievements I count:
- Over a 100 per cent increase in the identification of potential victims referred for support
- Leading on radically improved support for survivors of modern slavery
- Recorded crimes up by over 500 per cent
- Unprecedented uplift in policing operations
- Embedding sustainable training for judiciary in England & Wales, now extended to Northern Ireland and Scotland
- Developing guidance with the Local Government Association for all councils
- Training through the Royal College of Nursing across the United Kingdom providing advice to the largest body of health care professionals
- Working with governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland developing their strategies
- Identifying and corresponding with non-compliant companies in the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 to ensure they adhere to section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act
- Securing extensive media coverage of modern slavery including a 4-month campaign with the Evening Standard and Independent
- Advocating for transparent supply chains and businesses
- Supporting many initiatives with trade or industry bodies and endorsing projects or guidance where appropriate
- Assisting with the development of materials for UK immigration agencies
- Working with the Premier League on their Modern Slavery Academy Cup
- Attending many hundreds of public speaking events to spread awareness about this terrible abuse
- Drafting, negotiating and achieving inclusion of UN Global Target SDG 8.7
- Negotiating with governmental and private sector actors to include modern slavery as a priority within the global agenda such as the B20, G20, UNGA and Security Council
- Identifying and providing recommendations to address root causes of modern slavery including lack of education, employment, poverty, governance vacuums and gender inequality
- Advising and working with many UN agencies
- Providing Her Majesty’s Government with extensive advice on trafficking associated to global migration issues including in Italy, Greece and Northern France
- Providing leadership and advice on responses for UK priority source countries including Nigeria, Vietnam and Romania
- Co-founding and developing the Santa Marta Group
- Assisting and advising the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
- Advising other nations on developing legislation, as in the case of Australia
- Chairing the board to develop responses to human trafficking within the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland – collaborating across the island of Ireland
I am deeply grateful to all the partners, agencies, organisations and friends I have worked with as Commissioner, and would also like to thank my outstanding team for all their indefatigable work. The commitment of the Prime Minister Theresa May must also be recognised when, as Home Secretary, she introduced the Modern Slavery Act and more recently instigated a global 'Call to Action'.
The commitment that is demonstrated by many on a daily basis to addressing modern slavery, safeguarding vulnerable children, women and men and combatting the criminals who commoditise humans has been necessarily unrelenting.
It has been the greatest of privileges to work on this important fight. Thank you.