DATA on modern-day slavery in the UK have been suppressed by the Government on at least 25 occasions since the Modern Slavery Act came into force, a pressure group has said.
On the basis of Freedom of Information requests, the data-mapping organisation After Exploitation said that parliamentary questions on slavery had been denied responses on several occasions, although the Government held the data requested.
Lord McColl of Dulwich and the MPs Alex Norris, Chris Ruane, David Davis, Frank Field, Kate Osamor, Angela Crawley, and Louise Haigh all requested information relating to the Government’s track record on detention and modern slavery, and their requests had been rejected.
In four of these instances, officials responded that no “centralised” data could be provided on the detention of trafficking victims. But After Exploitation has said that it uncovered evidence that all immigration, trafficking, and detention data were stored in the same case-information database, and were readily available.
It says that its research shows that, between 2017 and 2019, while parliamentary questions were being rejected or dismissed, the detention of potential victims was rising by 206 per cent.
The group is calling on the Government to release data quarterly on the detention of potential and recognised trafficking victims, on their deportation and voluntary return, on the immigration outcomes of survivors of trafficking, and on the support provided or denied to them.
The director of the group, Maya Esslemont, said: “It is unacceptable that the Government holds such vital information on the deportation, detention, and support outcomes of modern slavery survivors, but refuses to publish this data. Not only would this basic transparency allow survivors to be counted, it would help researchers, MPs, charities, and journalists to improve their understanding of the realities facing trafficked people.”