On 19 October 2020, the government published the UK Annual Report on Modern Slavery 2020, which entails the measures it has taken to combat modern slavery over the past 12 months under the following headings: pursue, prevent, protect, victim identification and support, the international response to modern slavery, and upstream prevention.
The report identifies modern slavery as a continuing priority with the following notable figures and actions:
- In June 2020, there were 1,845 active law enforcement investigations compared with 1,479 in June 2019, although the figure for those investigations that continued over this period is not given.
- The conviction rate for modern slavery-flagged offences rose from 65% in 2019 to 71.9% by June 2020.
Certainly, the government has committed to eradicating modern slavery in its own supply chain and has increased communication campaigns aimed at increasing awareness of the phenomenon of modern slavery.
A retrospective report on the measures taken to challenge and combat modern slavery is, of course, very welcome. Despite this, in September 2020, following the rejection of many of the recommendations of the independent review into modern slavery, there was promises from the government to implement a number of significant changes including the extension of the obligation to report to the public sector. A timetable for the implementation of these changes is still awaited.