News story: Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland to step down

Home Office Building - London - by .Martin. via Flickr

News story: Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland to step down

Appointed to the role in 2014 by Prime Minister Theresa May whilst she was Home Secretary, Mr Hyland is the first Commissioner of his kind for tackling modern slavery, playing a vital part in shaping this country’s response to these terrible crimes.

Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland said:

I am hugely proud to have been entrusted with the job of being the UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and humbled to have worked with such inspiring survivors and outstanding partners.

Over the last 4 years the NGO, private sector and governmental partners with whom I have worked domestically and internationally have taken enormous strides to improve the lives of victims and to move towards systems that simply will not tolerate the heinous abuses of modern slavery. Much work remains, but I depart knowing that awareness at both the highest level and at that critical working level has never been greater.

As the inaugural incumbent in a unique role there have predictably been some learning points for all around the precise nature of the independence set by the founding legislation, but I leave the role confident that my successor can only benefit from this learning.

Mr Hyland notified the government of his intention to step down in a letter to the Prime Minister earlier this month. He will take up the position of Chief Executive of ChildFund Ireland.

Writing in response to Mr Hyland’s letter, Prime Minister Theresa May said:

I am grateful for your service in this extremely important role and believe you should be rightly proud of your achievements.

As the first incumbent of the role, you made a significant contribution to shining a spotlight on the scale and nature of modern slavery in the UK and internationally, and have helped drive progress in the UK response to modern slavery.

The role of Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner was established as part of the ground-breaking Modern Slavery Act, the first piece of dedicated legislation of its kind in the world, giving law enforcement agencies the powers to pursue and convict perpetrators and intervene to protect victims.

The Commissioner works with law enforcement agencies, local authorities and third sector organisations to encourage better identification, prevention, investigation and prosecution of modern slavery crimes both in the UK and internationally.

Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability Victoria Atkins said:

Kevin Hyland has played a pivotal role in helping drive forward this country’s world-leading response on human-trafficking and modern slavery.

I thank him for his work and recognise his significant achievements, championing the voice of the victim and driving reform of the government’s system to support them.

He leaves a strong legacy, and the Home Office is working with the Commissioner in his final months to see how this important role can be further strengthened. Together we will do all we can to protect victims and bring perpetrators of modern slavery to justice.

During Mr Hyland’s time as Commissioner there has been a significant change in approach by law enforcement, improving the recording and investigation of modern slavery crimes. There are currently more than 600 live modern slavery police operations underway with more potential victims being identified and protected due to a greater awareness and improved understanding of modern slavery.

In 2017, more than 5,000 potential victims of modern slavery were referred to the UK’s National Referral Mechanism, a 35% increase on 2016. The latest conviction figures from 2016 show that 55 offenders were convicted of modern slavery offences, a 77% increase from 2015.

The Home Office will begin a recruitment process for the appointment of Kevin Hyland’s successor shortly.