Modern slavery is a growing crime, a grave abuse and a gross injustice. Tackling it presents multiple challenges, but no challenge is so great that it serves as an excuse to let this issue persist.
Having served 30 years in policing, I have come across many vulnerable people who suffered at the hands of brutal criminals, including victims of modern slavery. I quickly learnt that this is a crime about commodities, and towards the end of my career with London’s Metropolitan Police, I began to understand how that crime has evolved into the wholesale trade of human life.
One especially startling case involved a 7 year old girl taken from her mother at the age of 4 with the promise of a better life in the UK. This young child became chattel, a mere commodity to be exploited as a domestic servant, often working more than 16 hours a day. Her plight and suffering was reminiscent of the strife in a Dickens novel, and should have no place in Britain in the twenty-first century.
In 2015, I was appointed the United Kingdom’s first Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner. Whether it be through building the capacities of law enforcement, advising business leaders, working directly with survivors and front line support providers, or addressing the root causes of modern slavery in countries of origin, my aim has been to design, develop and deliver responses to this vile abuse of human lives – including how to find it, how to fight it and how to finish it.