Modern Slavery: co-ordinated action critical to helping victims

02 May 2018

The Public Accounts Committee finds Government still lacks data and systems to properly understand the crime, its victims and perpetrators.

Government does not know how much money it spends tackling modern slavery

The Home Office introduced an ambitious Modern Slavery Strategy in 2014, but it has taken too long to learn what works in the system, to understand the complexities of the crime and to turn the strategy and the Modern Slavery Act into an effective and co-ordinated approach across government.

Government does not yet have the data or systems to understand the crime, the demographics and circumstances of the victims and the perpetrators, making the digitisation of the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) a priority.

Nor does it know how much money it spends tackling modern slavery or what success looks like, meaning it cannot establish whether its strategy is working or how it should prioritise its actions.

No minimum care standards put in place

Potential victims are waiting far too long for a decision on whether they will be treated as a victim of modern slavery, causing further distress and anxiety to vulnerable people.

The Department has not put in place minimum care standards and it does not inspect the level of care provided to potential victims, so it does not know whether or not victims are receiving adequate care.

The Department also does not know what happens to victims after they have gone through the system and whether, for example, they have been trafficked again.

Chair's comments

Comment from Committee Chair, Meg Hillier MP:

"Victims of modern slavery can face unimaginable horrors but the Government’s good intentions have yet to result in coherent action to help them.

Government cannot hope to target resources in an effective manner until it properly understands the scale and nature of the challenge. This crime is complex and a piecemeal approach will not cut it.

Government must get a grip on what works and what doesn’t; when things change, it must be sufficiently informed and agile to respond.

There are flaws to address in the action it has taken thus far. Compliance with supply chains legislation is dismal and long waits in the referrals system are compounding the distress of potential victims.

Monitoring of victim support services is poor and there are worrying variations in the response of local police forces.

Brexit may complicate the picture further and it is critical that Government acts swiftly on the concerns set out in our report."

Further information

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