The Modern Slavery Act 2015 is ground-breaking legislation, but the traffickers are still acting with ‘impunity’ and support for the victims remains ‘disappointing’.
That’s the message from the UK’s outgoing independent anti-slavery commissioner in a recent interview with the media. Kevin Hyland OBE recognised the leadership of the Prime Minister but was critical of the Government’s implementation of the law:
I think the legislation is very good indeed but I think implementation needs to be more focused on what it was designed for so that it actually supports the victims, actually puts people in prison, actually takes the assets away from criminals and works to prevent this happening in the first place.
Improving support for victims
Meanwhile, Parliamentarians are still waiting to hear whether Lord McColl’s Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill will receive the support from the Government it will need to extend the support for victims. Co-operative Parliamentarians have written to the Prime Minister asking her to support the Bill—there’s still time to lobby you MP on this here.
The Co-operative Party has been at the forefront of demanding more from the Government, notably on section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act which places on a duty on companies with a turnover of £36m or more to publish a modern slavery statement. The persistence of Co-operative MPs on the Public Accounts Committee has paid off and the Government has agreed to run an awareness-raising campaign to encourage compliance with the Act and to write to all Chief Executives of in-scope companies to remind them of the responsibilities.
Taking local action
At a local level, the Co-operative Party has been encouraging councils to implement the Charter on Modern Slavery which seeks to tackle modern slavery in local government supply chains. To date over a dozen councils have signed the Charter, including most recently, Edinburgh. Not only was Edinburgh the first Scottish council to sign, it’s a SNP/Labour coalition—illustrating the strong cross party interest in tackling modern slavery.