Slaves On Our Streets – Report

“I don’t want people to look at me and feel pity,” she says. “For me, it’s like a light. This has passed, and I’m still alive. I thank God and the universe. He gave me this lesson, and I want to help prevent this happening to someone else.”
‘Hannah’, survivor of modern slavery

In September 2017, The Evening Standard and The Independent, in partnership with the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, launched a special investigation into the issue of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Santa Marta Group, chaired the round table which comprised of leading figures from business, law, philanthropy and the media. The recommendations of this group were launched as a report in Parliament on the 30 January.

The report highlights that, although public awareness in the UK is improving and modern slavery is governmental and law enforcement priority, it remains a huge challenge. The report calls for more holistic collaborative work to both protect and support survivors and prosecute the perpetrators of this serious and organised crime.

This report will be presented to His Holiness, Pope Francis by Cardinal Nichols at the upcoming Santa Marta Group Conference.

Cardinal’s Forward

“Human traficking and modern slavery is an evil crying out to heaven, an open wound on the body of society. It strips people of their fundamental dignity, reducing each person to the status of a commodity. That there are more than 40 million people callously held in slavery in the world today is a mark of shame for us all. It demands our response.”

The Challenge

“The challenge for all of us is to rescue, protect, assist and serve all of those held in slavery. It is essential that we see the human face of every victim of traficking. Each one is a daughter or a son, a mother or a father. Each slave is a person with a story. It is our duty to remind ourselves constantly of this truth and not succumb to indifference.

It is in our power to rid the world of slavery and human traficking. We have the ability to do so, but do we have the will?”

KEY FINDINGS

  • Government must put victim support on a statutory footing as part of the statutory guidance
  • Longer term support for victims and survivors is the key to breaking the cycle of slavery and should be available to survivors irrespective of immigration status
  • The likelihood of modern slavery in supply chains is high. Noncompliance with s54 of the Modern Slavery Act must be identifiable through a recognised process and result in sanctions
  • Companies should be encouraged to pursue profit with integrity, and compliance with modern slavery should be on the same footing as other sustainability goals
  • Any corporate regulation must be in support of market-driven solutions
  • Companies should band together by sector or industry to have greater clout
  • Consumers should vote with their purses, and support brands associated with ethical supply chains
  • Increased pressure on immigration must not be at the expense of the most vulnerable in society
  • Modern Slavery must become a coordinated national policing priority. All constabularies must focus on the issues at hand locally in order for national solutions to be delivered
  • Statutory agencies must professionalise their responses, ensuring it fits within ‘business as usual’ and not just occasional interventions
  • Media has a duty to report accurately and sensitively, with the security and wishes of survivors paramount and a view to the long-term tackling of the issue