New Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner appointed

Sara Thornton

Hope for Justice welcomes the appointment of a new Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner to help spearhead the UK’s response to modern slavery.

Sara Thornton, a police officer with more than 30 years’ experience, will take up the role of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner in May. She will retire as the chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council next month after 33 years of service.

The former Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police will be expected to:
– Encourage good practice to drive an increase in the identification and protection of victims of modern slavery, and to ensure the provision of enhanced support for all victims and survivors in the UK
– Drive effective prevention of slavery and human trafficking offences
– Promote an improved law enforcement and criminal justice response to modern slavery across the UK
– Engage with the private sector and promote policies to ensure that supply chains are free of slavery
– Foster constructive and targeted international collaboration to combat modern slavery

Phillipa RobertsPhillipa Roberts, Director of Legal Policy at Hope for Justice, said: “We welcome the appointment of the new Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Sara Thornton.

“We look forward to working closely with her to further the fight against modern slavery, securing freedom for the victims of this crime.”

Sara Thornton’s appointment comes 10 months after her predecessor resigned after calling for more independence in his role. Kevin Hyland OBE, the UK’s first Anti-Slavery Commissioner, stepped down last year after nearly four years in post.

The role was created by the Modern Slavery Act 2015, while Theresa May was Home Secretary. Kevin Hyland’s resignation letter, addressed to her as Prime Minister, read: “I hope that any future incumbent can be assured the independence I am sure you intended as the author of the legislation.”

An independent review is in progress. The final report is due to be presented to the Home Secretary this month.

Sara Thornton said: “The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner was created to spearhead the UK’s fight against human trafficking and modern slavery and has a key role in preventing these vile crimes and supporting victims.

“I am looking forward to bringing my long experience as a chief constable and in national policing to bear in this important role. Good progress has been made in recent years and I am committed to build on that and do what I can to consign this crime to history.”

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said Thornton would bring “valuable insight and advice” to the position.