On anti-slavery day, it’s a sobering thought that the UK still lacks an effective system of identification and support for victims according to the former anti-slavery commissioner.

It’s not for want of pressure. Lord McColl’s Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill would have given victims greater support but it was scuppered in the Commons. Co-operative Party MPs like Preet Gill, Gareth Snell and Alex Norris pushed the Government hard in a Westminster Hall debate but the Minister failed to give ground to their call for greater support for victims.  And the independent review of the Act made a host of practical recommendations – as Jim McMahon MP noted, it is disappointing to say the least that Boris Johnson’s administration has failed to announce an update to the Act. It’s hard not to feel that the Government’s enthusiasm for tackling modern slavery has waned.

Yet there is also some good news and reasons to be optimistic.

There is strong evidence that the police and other frontline services are far more alert to modern slavery than they used to be. Referrals of potential victims was up 36% on the previous year according to the latest statistics published by the National Crime Agency which is likely to represent a growing awareness of the crime rather than any sudden increase in modern slavery.

It’s an issue which has galvanised civil society and has filtered through into the mainstream. People are using the “car wash app” and they are informing the authorities when they sense something isn’t right in a nailbar or a construction site.

Nearly 100 councils have signed the Co-operative Party’s Charter Against Modern Slavery and several councils are currently considering adopting the Charter.  On the back of the Charter, cities like Oxford and local authorities like Islington are leading the way in developing cross-cutting approaches to tackling modern slavery. With literally millions of people now living in a local authority area which is implementing the Charter, there’s a growing body of opinion that the Charter should be made statutory.