UK Government struggling to tackle modern slavery
A Public Accounts Committee report has revealed that the UK Government is struggling to deal effectively with the problem of modern slavery.
Despite the Home Office introducing an ambitious Modern Slavery Strategy in 2014, there are still issues with the system, including a lack of data to understand the crime. The Committee therefore recommends that the digitisation of the National Referral Mechanism be a priority.
In addition, potential victims are waiting far too long for a decision on whether they will be treated as a victim of modern slavery, causing further distress and anxiety to vulnerable people. There is also real concern about what happens to victims after they have gone through the system and whether they have been trafficked again.
The committee’s chair, Meg Hillier MP, said: “Victims of modern slavery can face unimaginable horrors but the Government’s good intentions have yet to result in coherent action to help them.
Government cannot hope to target resources in an effective manner until it properly understands the scale and nature of the challenge. This crime is complex and a piecemeal approach will not cut it.
Government must get a grip on what works and what doesn’t; when things change, it must be sufficiently informed and agile to respond.”
She continued: “There are flaws to address in the action it has taken thus far. Compliance with supply chains legislation is dismal and long waits in the referrals system are compounding the distress of potential victims. Monitoring of victim support services is poor and there are worrying variations in the response of local police forces.
Brexit may complicate the picture further and it is critical that Government acts swiftly on the concerns set out in our report.”