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Monday, 17 December 2018

Anti-Slavery Commissioner needs to be given 'genuine independence' says report

Written by Shaun Connolly

The role of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner needs to be strengthened, a new report has said.

A review of the workings of the Modern Slavery Act led by former minister Frank Field said the post, which is currently vacant, should not be filled until the commissioner was given "genuine independence".

The report calls for a "transformation" of the commissioner's role.

The review states that the preferred candidate for the post should be subject to a pre-appointment hearing with a Commons select committee rather than being put in place directly by the Home Office.

Mr Field (pictured) said: "Although the (Modern Slavery) Act has been used to bring some successful prosecutions, we are not yet at the point we need to be to maintain our status as world leaders in this area.

"The spirit of the Act was that the commissioner was the key single person in charge of its success.

"The post must attract people who are figures in their own right and for whom acting independently is a way of life."

Baroness Butler-Sloss, a co-author of the report, said: "Since 2015, the UK's status as the pre-eminent leader in efforts to eradicate modern slavery has been called into question.

"The Act was an innovative piece of legislation at the time, but national parliaments around the world are now surpassing our own efforts.

"Ensuring the independence of the commissioner is absolutely essential to maintaining our status in this area and prosecuting successfully."

A Home Office spokesman said: "We welcome the interim report's finding that the Modern Slavery Act is an innovative and world leading piece of legislation.

"This Government remains committed to driving the response to this horrendous crime and we will consider the report's recommendations further.

"However, the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner (IASC) provides crucial scrutiny of the Government's response to modern slavery and impartial advice on ways we can improve.

"That is why we will continue the recruitment of a new commissioner, and our work to ensure their independence."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Yui Mok / PA Wire.