Call for new Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner to be appointed after one year delay

May 16, 2023

Justice and Care has joined together with nine other anti-slavery and human rights organisations to call for an Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner to be appointed in the UK.

The position has been vacant for more than a year after Dame Sara Thornton left in April 2022 when her three-year tenure came to an end.

Part 4 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 created the role of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

A letter published in the Independent with the headline ‘The government must stop dragging its feet over a new anti-slavery watchdogreads:

It has now been 12 months since the UK has had an independent anti-slavery commissioner, a watchdog role to ‘encourage good practice in the prevention, detection, investigation, and prosecution of modern slavery offences and the identification of victims’.

As a group of anti-slavery and human rights organisations, we are seriously concerned that the appointment of a new Commissioner has been left to drift for so long. This is particularly worrying in the current climate, where changes to legislation are likely to make the identification of modern slavery victims more difficult, and could prevent them from getting the right support. 

As we pass the milestone of one year without a Commissioner, we are calling on the government to urgently appoint someone to this post. The new watchdog needs to be truly independent so they can work, unhindered by political interference, for the good of modern slavery victims and survivors.

These people are some of the most vulnerable in society and will have experienced all manner of horrors, from forced labour to being trafficked for sex. They deserve a dedicated public servant who understands the reality of modern slavery and can act as their champion. 

Having someone in this role is not only a legal requirement – it is also the mark of a civilised country. 


Jamie Fyleman, Development Director, Justice and Care

Julia de Boinville, Co-Founder, The Anti-Slavery Collective

Major Kathy Betteridge, Director Anti-Trafficking & Modern Slavery, The Salvation Army

Emily Chalke, Co-Director, Ella’s

Joy M Gillespie, CEO, SOHTIS

Jared Hodgson, CEO, Hope at Home

Tim Nelson, CEO, Hope for Justice

Ed Newton, CEO, Causeway

Caroline O’Connor, CEO, Migrant Help

Tom Stancliffe, CEO, TRIBE Freedom Foundation