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Modern slavery research centre

The UK Government is giving £10m to create a Policy and Evidence Centre for Modern Slavery and Human Rights. The new research centre, funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Strategic Priorities Fund and led by UKRI’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), will bring together academics, businesses and charities.

Meanwhile the Government publishes its response to the Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act, published in May, by MPs Frank Field and Maria Miller, and Baroness Butler-Sloss; and launches a consultation on transparency in supply chains legislation.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “More than 100 years ago the world condemned slavery to the history books, but the stark reality for around 40 million men, women and children is that they are still trapped in modern slavery. As both Home Secretary and Prime Minister I have endeavoured to shine a light on this hidden crime, to speak out for victims and put modern slavery firmly on the domestic and international agenda. There is much we can be proud of in our progress so far, but we need to accelerate our efforts, better share knowledge and build on our expertise.

“That is why we commissioned an Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act to ensure our laws are keeping pace with the rapidly evolving nature of these crimes, and why I am pleased to support new, innovative research to inform global efforts to end this barbaric crime by 2030.”

Representing UKRI, Professor Andrew Thompson, Executive Chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, said: “The Modern Slavery Policy and Evidence Centre will for the first time bring together researchers, policy makers, NGOs (non-governmental organisations), businesses, and victims on a scale not seen before.”

Under the Modern Slavery Act, large businesses have to publish a statement setting out what they are doing to tackle modern slavery and forced labour in their supply chains, in the UK and overseas; not the same as requiring them to act. The Home Office has written to 17,000 organisations in scope of the legislation, and it is estimated that, to date, 60pc of in-scope organisations have published a statement.

In other words, as the independent review pointed out, an estimated 40 per cent of eligible companies are not complying with the legislation at all.

Those that do not comply risk being publicly named following an audit of companies and the new consultation will consider enforcement of the act, including the possibility of a civil penalty scheme.

The Prime Minister is to host a dinner in Downing Street on modern slavery.


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