Home Secretary Amber Rudd today hailed the Evening Standard’s special investigation into slavery in London.
She said: “Modern slavery is a barbaric crime that destroys lives, which is why this Government has taken world-leading action to tackle it – toughening up sentences, increasing support for victims and encouraging more to come forward.
“I have made £8.5m of additional funding available to transform the policing response to modern slavery, and commissioned Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services to inspect the police response.
“I am pleased to see the Evening Standard and the Independent are shining a light on this terrible scourge and being part of the fight against it.”
Key figures from politics and anti-slavery organisations were quick to give their backing to the Evening Standard investigation into modern slavery.
“The continued existence of modern slavery is a disgrace,” said Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party. “I’m pleased the Evening Standard is taking a stand and urging the government to do more to fight this scourge.”
Over the coming months, the Evening Standard will be running a special investigation into modern slavery in the UK, showing readers where and how it exists, and what they can do to help.
Mr Corbyn’s comments were echoed by the Liberal Democrat leader, Vince Cable.
“It is appalling that slavery, a crime so often viewed as long behind us, is still so prevalent in the UK and across the wider world,” he said. “This campaign by the Evening Standard will be a step in the right direction to shining a light on this abhorrent crime, raising public consciousness and awareness.”
Priti Patel, the Secretary for State for International Development, said the investigation was necessary. “It’s essential because we need more global advocacy on this issue. We need people with a voice to give a voice to people who simply don’t have one.”
Leaders of prominent anti-slavery charities also backed the campaign. Sandra Horley, the chief executive of Refuge, said: “As one of the leading front-line supporters of women affected by modern slavery, we are delighted the Evening Standard and Independent are running this investigation, which will help show the public the scale of this terrible issue.”
Anne Read, director of human trafficking for The Salvation Army, said the investigation “is just what is needed to help people understand what is going on all around them and how they can help by reporting something suspicious they see”.
Senior executives from Freedom United, who are partnering with the papers on an online action site, the Helen Bamber Foundation and the Latin American Women’s Rights Service also hailed the investigation.
TJ Birdi, Executive Director of the Helen Bamber Foundation, said: “We commend The Evening Standard’s bold campaign to raise awareness of the thousands who suffer the extreme cruelty and immorality of slavery in the UK every day.”
The investigation was also backed by Lucila Granada, Director of the Latin American Women’s Rights Service. “This investigation unveils the horrific reality that modern slavery is an everyday crime in London, quite often in sectors with a high proportion of migrant women” she said. “It is crucial that survivors and victims are identified as such, ensuring safe reporting and appropriate support.”