Delegates will discuss key findings and recommendations of the ongoing Independent review of the Modern Slavery Act which is considering the current legislation in place for tackling modern slavery and human trafficking, and how it can be further strengthened and future-proofed.
Discussion will also reflect issues being raised in the Home Affairs Committee’s ongoing inquiry into preventing modern slavery, which is examining progress made in reducing human trafficking and modern slavery since the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act and what more remains to be done.
The independent review’s first interim report raised concerns surrounding the independence of the Anti-Slavery Commissioner role, and set out proposals to ensure that the new Commissioner is effectively held to account.
With the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner now appointed, delegates will look at the operation and function of the role and how best to ensure its operational independence in the sector, and improve co-operation with other government agencies and stakeholders.
The independent review’s second interim report focuses on transparency and supply chains, including modern slavery statements in the private sector.
Attendees will assess its proposals including setting out mandatory areas for annual reporting, and seeking to ensure that good working practices are embedded in organisations for the long term - and to address concerns that businesses can sometimes regard the statements simply as tick-box exercises.
They will also consider the policy options for enforcing reporting transparency, from initial warnings to director disqualification, along with discussion of the practicalities of enforcement as well as the funding, independence and effectiveness of the prospective regulator.
Delegates will discuss government plans for reform to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) aimed at creating a new unit in the Home Office that deals with all NRM cases, improving intensive support and specialist care for victims, and strengthening the role of the first responders - as well as concerns that the reforms have yet to be implemented.
Delegates will also look at how to further develop anti-slavery partnerships between agencies and stakeholders in the sector, and how challenges such as accountability, co-ordination and leadership can be effectively tackled.
The role of local authorities in combating modern slavery will be a particular focus, including the effectiveness of current schemes and how to improve the sharing of best practice across local government.
Further sessions will consider the legal application of the Act and look at what more can be done to support victims of modern slavery, with discussion expected on options such as increasing the minimum number of days that victims receive support and specifying a minimum standard of care required, including housing, legal and psychological assistance. We also expect attendees to consider the recent super complaint regarding police handling of modern slavery cases in relation to the care afforded to victims and complications for prosecutors.
There will also be discussion on the criminal prosecution and sentencing of modern slavery traffickers, with the Sentencing Council expected to consider changes to guidelines this year. We expect latest thinking on options for improving the success of prosecutions, particularly in cases where considerations of victim protection might be used by offenders to avoid conviction.