Westminster Legal Policy Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
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Next steps for tackling modern slavery - the impact of COVID-19, UK policy and organisational practice, and the global response

Morning, Wednesday, 27th January 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference focuses on combating modern slavery in the UK - assessing progress and looking at key outstanding issues and next steps.

It comes as the UK becomes the first country to publish a UK government modern slavery statement setting out how the government is tackling the crime in its supply chains, five years on from the Modern Slavery Act.

The seminar will also be an opportunity to consider the challenges presented by COVID-19 for both service providers and users, with many support workers delivering services to victims remotely.

The discussion is bringing stakeholders together with key policy officials who are due to attend from BEIS; the Home Office; the Ministry of Justice; UK Visas and Immigration; the Crown Prosecution Service; the DCMS; HMRC; the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office; the Office of the Sentencing Council; the Office of the Director of Labour Market Enforcement; the DWP; the UK Visa & Immigration; the Department of Justice NI and The Scottish Government.

The agenda:

  • Multi-agency decision making frameworks and what more can be done to prevent modern slavery in business
  • Priorities for research and evidence to improve the legal and policy framework
  • Next steps for tackling modern slavery in the UK - dealing with the impact of COVID-19, the NRM, and improving victim support
  • Collaboration between different bodies, identifying victims and enforcement
  • Tackling modern slavery globally
  • Meeting the challenge for organisations - transparency, action on supply chains, and ensuring best practice
  • Next steps for policy in tackling modern slavery

Key areas for discussion:

  • COVID-19:
    • the policy response:
      • assessing the impact of short-term measures introduced by government during lockdown, amid increased economic uncertainty and risk to those vulnerable to modern slavery
      • what can be learnt going forward in the context of multiple local lockdowns continuing to be introduced
    • the NRM during lockdown - did potential victims get the help they needed, with the Mechanism continuing to operate and support workers often working remotely
    • trafficking patterns during the pandemic - what needs to be done to prevent gaps in provision of services for victims with an increasing number of people being forced out of jobs, particularly in lower paid industries
  • modern slavery statements:
    • attitudes to reporting - impact of the government decision to mandate the key topics for modern slavery statements on stopping businesses regard statements as tick box exercises
    • enforcement - the potential introduction of sanctions for non-compliance and establishment of a unified enforcement body to oversee compliance
    • transparency - examining the requirement that public bodies including local authorities that have a budget of £36m or more will be required to report regularly:
      • likely impact - and how to ensure that this new requirement is not a burden on public agencies
      • accessibility - if transparency will be improved by the new requirement to publish statements on the new digital government reporting service
  • the National Referral Mechanism (NRM):
    • assessing implementation
  • joint working - how can collaboration between the NRM and local safeguarding partners be improved and how progress can be measured, in light of the review of multi-agency frameworks
  • the Modern Slavery Victim Care Contract:
    • implementation and delivery - what will be needed to achieve the aim of enabling victims of modern slavery to access more flexible support under an improved service
    • impact - what it means for front-line support workers and victims
  • research priorities - key areas for data and evidence gathering as the AHRC/ESRC/UKRI-backed Modern Slavery PEC conducts its consultation, with discussion expected on options such as what happens to people once they have passed through the National Referral Mechanism and whether they have been successful in rebuilding their lives particularly in light of the pandemic
  • international collaboration:
    • the UK’s role - assessing what the Government is doing to work jointly with other countries
    • imported goods - where the products made by slavery victims crime are imported, sold and consumed and what more the UK and other governments can do on regulation and enforcement of the labour conditions

A scan of relevant developments:

  • heightened risk - warnings on human trafficking and worker exploitation during the COVID-19 pandemic from the International Rescue Committee and the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner
  • supply chains:
    • Transparency in supply chains consultation - Government response - setting out new measures to strengthen the Modern Slavery Act and ensure that large businesses and public bodies tackle modern slavery in their supply chains
    • Government announces new action to prevent modern slavery in its supply chains - publishing its assessment of modern slavery across approximately £50bn of public spending, with statements from individual departments to come
  • the UK government accepting the Independent Commission for Aid Impact’s recommendations on the UK’s approach to tackling modern slavery through the aid programme, including: 
    • to develop a more systematic approach to filling knowledge and evidence gaps, to guide choices when making modern slavery interventions
    • to draw more on survivors’ input to understand and reflect lived experiences of modern slavery when designing policy and programmes for victims
    • for the UK to publish a statement of overall objectives and approach for using UK aid to tackle modern slavery internationally 
  • the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) ­­- the framework in England and Wales for identifying potential modern slavery victims, aimed at making sure they receive appropriate support
  • Evaluation of the modern slavery Local Authority Pathway pilots - with recommendations for new approaches to support victims transitioning out of NRM support, as most victims required additional support to secure accommodation and overcome challenges due to not speaking fluent English
  • IASC and ECPAT UK review on multi-agency decision making models - looking at potential frameworks for devolved NRM decision-making for child victims of trafficking
  • New contract to deliver improved support for modern slavery victims - the new Modern Slavery Victim Care Contract awarded to The Salvation Army
  • The Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre - consultation on immediate and longer-term research priorities
  • Survivors of trafficking and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme - ATLEU report highlighting barriers survivors of trafficking face in trying to access compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, including applications being out of scope for legal aid and a lack of guidance around how CICS rules should be interpreted for survivors

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from both Houses of Parliament and officials from BEIS; the Home Office; the Ministry of Justice; UK Visas and Immigration; the Crown Prosecution Service; the DCMS; HMRC; the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office; the Office of the Sentencing Council; the Office of the Director of Labour Market Enforcement; the DWP; the UK Visa & Immigration; the Department of Justice NI and The Scottish Government.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Dame Sara Thornton

Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner

Dr James Cockayne

Professor of Global Politics and Anti-Slavery, University of Nottingham and Senior Fellow, United Nations University Centre for Policy Research

Murray Hunt

Director, Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre; and Director, Bingham Centre for The Rule of Law

Damian Johnson

Deputy Director, Modern Slavery Unit, Home Office

Sheon Sturland

Detective Superintendent and Unit Commander, Modern Slavery & Organised Immigration Crime Unit, National Police Chiefs Council

Robert Richardson

Head of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit, National Crime Agency


Lord Ian McColl of Dulwich CBE

Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey


Mark Burns-Williamson

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, and APCC Lead for Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery

Ahmed Aydeed

Director & Solicitor, Duncan Lewis Solicitors

Antony Botting

Modern Slavery Project Lead, Croydon Council

Major Kathy Betteridge

Director, Anti Trafficking & Modern Slavery, The Salvation Army

Phillipa Roberts

Director of Legal Policy, Hope for Justice

Dr Alexander Trautrims

Associate Director Business and Economies, University of Nottingham Rights Lab

John Morrison

Chief Executive, Institute for Human Rights & Business

Alistair Wood

Solicitor, Pinsent Masons

Professor Mahmood Bhutta

Co-Founder, Medical Fair and Ethical Trade Group, and independent advisor to the British Medical Association