Response to Home Office proposals for changes to modern slavery policy

This statement is Hope for Justice’s response to the contents of the press release issued by the Home Office and The Rt Hon Priti Patel MP on 20 March 2021, available here.

Paul McAnulty, UK & Europe Programme Director at anti-slavery charity Hope for Justice, said: “We welcome the proposed government review of the 2014 Modern Slavery Strategy and strongly support more funding for investigations and prosecutions of those responsible for these crimes. We also back a stronger focus on prevention and funding to improve the support available to survivors of modern slavery. In our experience, long-term advocacy and support – including regularisation of immigration status – makes victims more likely to come forward and to engage with the support on offer. Long-term advocacy and support also makes it far more likely that survivors agree to support investigations and prosecutions, including by giving evidence and appearing as witnesses.

“Since we were founded in 2008, Hope for Justice has focused on strengthening collaborative and multi-agency responses to modern slavery. We have built capacity into wider services and partner organisations, such as the police, social services, local authorities, support providers and other charities, while working collaboratively to improve the standards of advocacy and care for survivors. Our Independent Modern Slavery Advocacy (IMSA) model has a long record of success in providing vital support for survivors and in giving them the confidence and security to engage with police and prosecutions.

“Alongside the government’s welcome proposals for a review of current funding levels is the suggestion that the existing system is being abused by criminals, but we have seen no data to support this. Indeed, there are already significant safeguards in legislation to prevent such abuse. We believe any changes to the law and to policy should be evidence-based and subject to public consultation. As a leading global anti-slavery organisation, we are enthusiastic to engage in a public consultation to amplify the voices of those directly affected by this terrible crime. We must together fashion lasting structural and systemic reform and increase perpetrator accountability, while creating consistent and UK-wide pathways to remediation for survivors. This is how we will fortify the UK’s global reputation as a leader in the fight against modern slavery.”