In March 2021, the UK Government announced its intention to review the 2014 Modern Slavery Strategy and develop a revised strategic approach to addressing modern slavery. In response, the Modern Slavery PEC has produced a Briefing paper to inform the strategy review, and several recommendations to consider for a new Modern Slavery Strategy. This paper was sent to officials in the Modern Slavery Unit in the Home Office on 5th November 2021.
The briefing draws on the Modern Slavery PEC’s assessment of existing research and evidence on modern slavery and considers four broad themes: strategic framework, strategic priorities, modern slavery data and survivor involvement in research and policy-making.
- Strategic Framework: The UK Government should revise the 2014 Strategy “4Ps” (Pursue; Prevent; Protect; Prepare) strategic framework and replace with a clearer set of strategic objectives in the new Modern Slavery Strategy, that align with international anti-trafficking frameworks (based on 3Ps of Prosecution, Protection and Prevention; with additional 4th P of Partnership). This will more clearly reflect the breadth of UK Government activity to address modern slavery and support international collaboration.
- Strategic Priorities: Looking across all policy areas, evidence suggests the need for the new Modern Slavery Strategy to place a greater emphasis on preventing harm in the first place, underpinned by a clearer definition of prevention. Also, the need to explore further levers to address forced labour in supply chains, such as through international trade and the role of investors. The new Strategy should also take account of the increased vulnerability to modern slavery that has resulted from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Modern Slavery Data: To enhance transparency, improve understanding of patterns and trends, and increase understanding of the effectiveness of Government policies on modern slavery, the new Modern Slavery Strategy should set out how UK Government will improve the accessibility of existing modern slavery data it collects and publishes (such as National Referral Mechanism data), and prioritise new data collections (for example, on the use of the statutory defence).
- Survivor involvement in research and policymaking: The UK Government should make a clear commitment to embed the inclusion of survivors in research and policy development and set short-, medium- and long-term objectives for how it intends to do so. It should take account of emerging good practice in involving survivors in research, policymaking, and the selection and design of UK interventions in upstream countries. The UK Government should draw on existing good practice when conducting its own survivor engagement, whilst recognising that it might not be best placed to engage with survivors directly and should explore using intermediaries with the requisite skills and experience.