THE Government has no way of knowing whether its strategy on modern slavery is working, a report on the subject says.
Published last week, the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC’s) report Reducing Modern Slavery says: “The Home Office has no means of monitoring progress or knowing if its Modern Slavery Strategy is working and achieving value for money.” The report also warns that victims are waiting too long to receive decisions on their status. This is “causing distress and anxiety to vulnerable people”.
The PAC study focused on the Government’s flagship Modern Slavery Strategy, introduced in 2014, which was followed by the signing of a pledge to eradicate modern slavery around the world by 2020, by global faith leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury (News, 5 December 2014, 5 August 2016).
At the time of the legislation, it was estimated that there were as many as 13,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK, including those who have been subject to human trafficking and forced labour.
“The Home Office introduced an ambitious modern slavery strategy in 2014,” the report says, “but it has taken too long to learn what works in the system, to understand the complexities of the crime, and to turn the strategy and the Modern Slavery Act into an effective and co-ordinated approach across government.
“[The] Government does not yet have the data or systems to understand the crime, the demographics and circumstances of the victims and the perpetrators. . . Nor does it know how much money it spends tackling modern slavery or what success looks like, meaning it cannot establish whether its strategy is working or how it should prioritise its actions.”
It recommends that the Home Office begin to track effectively how its strategy is working, build its understanding of modern-slavery offences, and put in place care standards for victims.
Meg Hillier MP, who chairs the PAC, 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.”