UK prime minister Theresa May spoke at the UN General Assembly in New York © UN Photo/Cia Pak
UK prime minister Theresa May spoke at the UN General Assembly in New York © UN Photo/Cia Pak

Spy agencies brought into fight against slavery

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
21 September 2016

A new taskforce has been formed to tackle modern slavery, led by UK prime minister Theresa May and including the heads of all three intelligence agencies.

May announced the initiative at a side meeting during the UN General Assembly in New York, arguing a coordinated effort was required to eradicate slavery.

The aims of the taskforce include harnessing efforts and resources to fight slavery in a similar way to other forms of organised crime, increasing and improving investigations, raising prosecution levels and promoting international cooperation.

The taskforce includes the home secretary, attorney general, chair of the joint intelligence committee and anti-slavery commissioner Kevin Hyland. The heads of MI5, MI6, GCHQ and Interpol, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and other senior police officers will be invited to attend meetings as required.

May also announced that £5m of the £33m announced to address slavery abroad would be spent in Nigeria to strengthen anti-trafficking agencies and help those most vulnerable, particularly in the key trafficking hub of Edo state.

May said: “The UK is leading the world with our efforts to stamp out modern slavery. Just over a year since the Modern Slavery Act came into force, convictions are up, more victims are getting support and there are more police investigations into this abhorrent crime.

“But there is still much more to do. Across the world an estimated 45m people are enduring experiences that are simply horrifying in their inhumanity. That’s why I am determined to drive forward international action to eradicate modern slavery.

“Just as the criminals cross borders, so we need a radical new approach that crosses borders – sharing intelligence and joining up investigations. This is standard in the case of drugs trafficking and the trade in illegal firearms and there is no excuse for our law enforcement authorities failing to do this when it comes to modern slavery.”

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