12 October 2016
Kevin Hyland, the UK’s Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner, has said the private sector could do more to tackle forced labour in his first annual report.
The official said that greater reporting requirements for businesses, which were implementing last year under the Modern Slavery Act, are welcome but warned some companies approach their responsibilities as a “tick-box exercise”.
“The role that the private sector can play in tackling modern slavery, within the UK and across the globe, cannot be underestimated,” he stated.
“There is still much more to be done to ensure that companies produce statements that both comply with the Act’s obligations and point to decisive action being taken,” he added. “I will be promoting the utilisation of effective models to allow for easy scrutiny and comparison of statements.”
As many as 3,146 potential victims of modern slavery were reported to the National Referral Mechanism in 2015-2016, including car wash workers and servants in wealthy households. However, the Commissioner noted that only 884 modern slavery crimes were recorded and rose concerns that forced labour was not being taken seriously enough by enforcement agencies.