Government failing to make concrete progress on modern slavery, says PAC

Report from the Public Accounts Committee says ambitious Modern Slavery Strategy held back by lack of data and tracking of victims after they’ve been through system.

A select committee inquiry jointly-led by Stephen Morgan MP has found the Government doesn’t know how much money it spends tackling modern slavery or what success looks like, meaning it cannot establish whether its strategy is working or how it should prioritise its actions.

The Public Accounts Committee said Government does not yet have the data or systems to understand the crime, the demographics and circumstances of the victims and the perpetrators, making the digitisation of the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) a priority.

The committee also expressed concern that potential victims are waiting far too long for a decision on whether they will be treated as a victim of modern slavery, causing further distress and anxiety to vulnerable people.

The Department also does not know what happens to victims after they have gone through the system and whether, for example, they have been trafficked again.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

Despite the Government’s good intentions, they’ve so far largely failed to deliver for victims of modern slavery.

The fact is, the department still don’t have adequate systems in place to accurately measure or comprehend this abhorrent crime.

We owe it to those victims of modern slavery to digitise the NRM as a matter of urgency and make concrete progress on tackling this scourge.’

Chair of the PAC, Meg Hillier MP, said:

‘Victims of modern slavery can face unimaginable horrors but the Government’s good intentions have yet to result in coherent action to help them.

Government cannot hope to target resources in an effective manner until it properly understands the scale and nature of the challenge. This crime is complex and a piecemeal approach will not cut it.

Government must get a grip on what works and what doesn’t; when things change, it must be sufficiently informed and agile to respond.

Monitoring of victim support services is poor and there are worrying variations in the response of local police forces.

Brexit may complicate the picture further and it is critical that Government acts swiftly on the concerns set out in our report’.