Government failing in its bid to tackle modern slavery, audit report finds

The Government is failing in its bid to tackle modern slavery, a damning report has found.

Theresa May’s pledge to “consign slavery to the history books” has been heavily undermined by the National Audit Office (NAO) after it found the Government’s modern slavery strategy was both “unclear” and “inadequate”.

The report accuses the Home Office of having an incomplete picture of the crime, warning that there remains “much more to do” to ensure victims in the UK are protected.

Campaigners said the “confusion and lack of consistency” in the UK’s response to slavery meant many victims were too afraid to approach the authorities for help, and that when they do, there is often a lack of support and protection.

The NAO found that delays in deciding whether people referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) – the UK’s framework for identifying victims of human trafficking – are victims of modern slavery is causing further distress and anxiety to vulnerable people. 

It said the Home Office had failed to put in place a robust inspection regime to check the quality of care and support provided in the safe houses where potential victims are placed, with no minimum care standards in these houses.

There are estimated to be between 10,000 and 13,000 potential victims of modern slavery in the UK, with labour exploitation, sexual exploitation and domestic servitude the most frequent types of exploitation recorded.

In 2014, the Government introduced the Modern Slavery Strategy, with the aim of significantly reducing the prevalence of the issue. Theresa May announced last year that efforts to tackle the “evil” crime were to get a £33m boost and a new taskforce to coordinate the response.

But the new findings show the Modern Slavery Strategy fails to set out clear activities for the Home Office or a means of monitoring progress, and that the Government doesn’t know how much is spent on the strategy or how…

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