Last month, University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab launched their newest report ‘Partnerships for freedom, Improving multi-agency collaboration on modern slavery’. The report provides a snapshot of the changing landscape of anti-slavery partnerships across the UK, a brief look at the collaborative practices identified by Rights Lab research, and makes brief recommendations for the improvement of partnerships’ anti-slavery responses.  

The significance of multi-agency anti-slavery partnerships lays in the need ‘for a cohesive and comprehensive response to modern slavery’, and whilst partnerships continue to play a core role in that response, the report shows that partnership collaborations are still primarily focused on ‘input’ activities, such as training development and raising awareness, instead of ‘outcomes’ revolving around victim experiences and prosecutions.  

However, the report also highlights the remaining gaps in performance monitoring which detriments partnerships’ abilities to demonstrate the effectiveness of their collaborations. Furthermore, whilst frontline actors are described as putting multi-agency partnerships and collaborative approaches at the core of their modern slavery response, the report found that little assistance in facilitating collaborative activity or building long term approaches has been provided. 

Research Lab recommends, among others, that local partnerships  should explore ways to involve survivors voices in setting objectives, and ought to encourage non-tokenistic engagement with local businesses. Though multi-agency partnerships are often thematically or geographically sub-grouped, the report shows the national government could have a direct impact on how partnerships operate. Further, the report recommends that: 

  • The national government  establish a nationwide protocol to improve co-ordination between local, regional and national anti-slavery initiatives; 
  • The national government fund local partnership co-ordinators to develop anti-slavery work and consistently monitor performance; 
  • The national government ensure local authorities are funded to meet their role and responsibilities in relation to the anti-slavery agenda. 

For the full report, including an outline to what a good partnership might look like, see here.

Southwell & Partners provide expert legal advice and training  on modern slavery law, for more information, contact us here.