Mayor appoints special envoys in fight against human trafficking

18 February 2016

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, has appointed Anthony Steen CBE and Sir John Randall as special envoys to help tackle and raise awareness about human trafficking and modern day slavery.

The Mayor’s longstanding concern about the scale of modern slavery was increased by new Home Office research which estimated there were between 10,000 and 13,000 potential victims in the UK in 2013 and more than half of these were initially located in London and the home counties.

In a bid to raise awareness and help tackle the issue of human trafficking in London, the Mayor has appointed Anthony Steen CBE, chairman of the Human Trafficking Foundation, and Sir John Randall, vice-chairman of the Human Trafficking Foundation, as his special envoys. Through their work for the Foundation, both have considerable experience in this field, including Anthony Steen forming the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking in 2006 and the Foundation playing a pivotal role in the content of the 2010 Anti-Slavery Day Bill.

As the Mayor’s special envoys, they will keep the Mayor updated on the extent of the problem and measures being taken to tackle human trafficking, including the Foundation’s own work, for which major funding awards have recently been secured from the Michael Bishop Foundation partnered by the London’s City Bridge Trust. Current projects include tracking victims once they leave safe houses after the statutory 45 days has expired, to prevent them returning to their traffickers. Hundreds of trafficked children arrive in the UK from all over the world but go missing soon after they arrive.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP said: “I am delighted that Anthony and John have agreed to become my Special Envoys for human trafficking and modern day slavery, bringing their knowledge and passion to raise increased awareness of these horrific crimes which have no place in our capital city or this country.” 

The appointments build on work the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) has carried out to help tackle human trafficking. As an associate partner in the European Communities Against Trafficking (ECAT) Project, MOPAC has hosted conferences at City Hall to share learning and good practice across London boroughs. The Metropolitan Police are also part of the Pan-London Trafficking Forum, a partner-led initiative which co-ordinates and supports activities to drive down modern slavery.

Anthony Steen said: “Although Britain has set the pace in fighting human trafficking worldwide by the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act, it will not on its own rid the nation of modern day slavery. Young women continue to be deceived and end up in ‘brothels’ rather than as restaurant waitresses. Men are regularly misled when accepting work in the construction and hospitality industries, having their passports confiscated and not getting paid, ending up in debt bondage to the traffickers. The European Union recent estimates were that at least 150,000 victims a year are trafficked in and around EU countries, with numbers increasing. We want to ensure traffickers can be discovered at the source, and innocent victims better warned of the dangers of accepting ‘too good to be true’ job offers. There is an unhealthy veil of secrecy which pervades trafficking, which has to be lifted if better results are to be achieved.”  

Sir John Randall said: “I’m delighted with the Mayor’s appointment to tackle the problems of modern day slavery which is growing fast. It is extremely troubling how so many vulnerable victims there are, and how easily they succumb to ruthless and violent traffickers. Trafficking is the worst form of modern day slavery, and our task will be to get to grips with the scale and methods used by traffickers and work with agencies and partners on tackling these horrific crimes.”

Notes to editors

  1. These appointments are voluntary, unpaid roles, and do not confer any authority to commit the Mayor, Deputy Mayor for Policing And Crime, or MOPAC to any policy or undertaking
  2. The Home Office report Modern Slavery: an application of multiple systems estimation includes its Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Bernard Silverman’s estimation that in 2013 there were between 10,000 – 13,000 potential victims of modern slavery in the UK. The report can be read here:
  3. The National Crime Agency estimates that in 2013, the UK was the third most common country of origin of identified victims.
  4. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) report Setting the Record: The trafficking of migrant women in the England and Wales off-street prostitution sector (2010) can be read here.
  5. The Pan-London Trafficking Forum was established in June 2014. The Met have seen a significant year-on-year increase in victim referral.
  6. Anthony Steen CBE established the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking in 2006 together with the Rt Hon Clare Short and Rt Hon Baroness Butler-Sloss. The Human Trafficking Foundation played a pivotal role in the introduction and content of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. Anthony Steen, then MP, piloted a Private Members Bill through Parliament in 2010 resulting in the Anti-Slavery Day Act 2010. This Act aims to raise awareness of the scale and nature of modern day slavery in Britain. Prime Minister, David Cameron, decreed October 18th each year as Anti-Slavery Day. Last year over 60 specific events were organised by Government, local government, NGOs, churches etc all over the country aimed at making everyone more conscious of the situation and how better to detect victims.
  7. The Human Trafficking Foundation (HTF) is a UK-based charity which grew out of the work of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking. HTF was created in 2010 in order to support and add value to the work of the many charities and agencies operating to combat human trafficking in the UK. The Foundation’s three main objectives are:
  • to shape policy and legislation by equipping parliamentarians and policy makers, lead government departments, local authorities, Police and statutory agencies to better understand the extent and nature of human trafficking in Britain, and the need to adjust rapidly to changing trends;
  • to provide a sustained and collective voice amongst NGOs, civil society, voluntarily organisations fighting modern day slavery, so that short comings in current policy can be identified and addressed, and how that can best be tackled; and
  • to increase public awareness of trafficking (culminating in Annual Anti-Slavery Week every year), so that a greater public and media concern results in the UK becoming increasingly hostile to traffickers.

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