Pretty much since its inception the government has been under pressure to strengthen the Modern Slavery Act. In day to day life it seems to work reasonably well with a steady stream of arrests and investigations for human trafficking, forced labour and servitude - more can always be done of course.
However it is the corporate world that, as is the modern way, is being asked to play its part and to play it well. Businesses of a certain size are required to publish an annual modern slavery statement setting out the details of any risks of modern slavery and remedial steps taken where they are identified.
Although it is not a criminal offence to fail to publish a statement the government reserves the right to 'name and shame' those who do not. There has been significant pressure for this requirement to be strengthened and the announcement last week that a modern slavery statement registry has been created will be welcome news to many. It is however not yet mandatory - but is likely to be by this time next year. The government has boldly stated it is leading by example and has submitted its own statement to the registry. There is now a call on all applicable businesses to do the same - who will follow suit?
There remains no obvious decision as to whether there will be a criminal sanction for failing to submit a statement to the registry and there will no doubt be further calls for the government to introduce 'failure to prevent' offences to follow the Bribery & Criminal Finances Acts.
There is no doubt though that the government is committed to dealing with this global and highly emotive topic. There is clearly change coming and we will see over the next 12 months just how radical it might be.
Organisations strongly encouraged to share the positive steps taken to tackle and prevent modern slavery.