Statement from NPCC lead on modern slavery, Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, on International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Today is the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. On this day we honour the memory of the millions of people of African descent who suffered under the brutal system of slavery.

The theme for this year’s day of remembrance is “Ending slavery’s legacy of racism”. The theme reflects the global movement to end injustices which emanate from slavery past and present. Today is a day to reflect on the suffering of its victims and also the suffering which continues through generations as a result of this abhorrent trade.

Slavery and human trafficking is not a barbarity of the past. Criminals continue to exploit vulnerable people, treating them as no more than commodities to be forced into prostitution, criminal activity or hard labour for the financial benefit of their exploiters.

As the national police lead for modern slavery and human trafficking, I am all too aware that the scourge of slavery still exists. The terrible impact of the transatlantic slave trade continues to impact across many communities today and underlines the importance of the work we all do to combat exploitation in all its forms.

Over the last four years the government and parliament has led this agenda internationally and provided specific funding in this arena for law enforcement and in turn has worked across government alongside the third sector. The achievements have been significant but there is still much more we must achieve together.

We continue to work hard, with our partners, to raise awareness of this hidden crime, to bring perpetrators to justice, and to safeguard those whose lives have been devastated. The Government has recently launched a modern slavery statement registry, where businesses self-report the due diligence they have carried out on their own supply chains. Police and partners will be running a number of Project Aidant intensification periods over the coming months to focus attention on tackling modern slavery. Police and partners have achieved considerable successes although the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made an already difficult situation more challenging for victims.

Thank you for your continued support.