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Exploitation and Slavery: Coronavirus

Home Office written question – answered on 10th June 2020.

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Photo of Carolyn Harris Carolyn Harris Labour, Swansea East

To ask Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps the Government is taking to prevent a rise in exploitation and modern slavery when the lockdown due to the covid-19 outbreak is lifted.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

The Government is committed to continuing its work to eradicate modern slavery. On 21st May, the Prime Minister hosted a virtual summit focused on ‘hidden harms’, including modern slavery. The virtual summit brought key decision makers together to share insight, best practice and agree an approach for tackling these crimes as we move towards easing lockdown measures.

COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges to us all, but victims of modern slavery may be especially isolated and hidden from view as a result of the lockdown measures required to combat the pandemic. In recognition of this, the Government has published guidance on gov.uk (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-support-for-victims-of-modern-slavery/coronavirus-covid-19-support-for-victims-of-modern-slavery) which provides information about how to spot the potential signs of modern slavery and refer suspected cases to appropriate services. We recognise victims are coming into contact with different services during the COVID-19 outbreak and we have worked to raise awareness of the indictors of modern slavery in these areas to ensure victims continue to be identified and supported.

In addition, during the COVID-19 pandemic the Home Office has been working closely with law enforcement partners to monitor and assess changes to the threat of modern slavery, and to ensure an appropriate response to these.

This work will continue as social distancing measures are eased. We are engaging frontline organisations and NGOs through the Modern Slavery Strategy and Implementation Group (MSSIG) in order to understand challenges that are emerging as the lockdown is lifted and to consider how best to target further awareness raising and communications activity to prevent any rise in exploitation and modern slavery.

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