We are creating a unified UKRI website that brings together the existing research council, Innovate UK and Research England websites.
If you would like to be involved in its development let us know.

Prime Minister announces cutting-edge modern slavery research centre

Date: 09/07/2019

Modern slavery traps over 40 million people worldwide and costs the UK economy more than £3 billion a year. A new research centre, announced by the Prime Minister today, will focus on prevention, victim recovery, supply chains and law enforcement to help put an end to this crime.

Efforts to uncover the true scale of modern slavery, expose more trafficking networks and better inform our action to stamp out these crimes have been boosted today following the government’s investment of £10 million to create a cutting-edge Policy and Evidence Centre for Modern Slavery and Human Rights.

The new research centre, funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Strategic Priorities Fund and led by UKRI’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), will bring together academics, businesses and charities to drive forward new studies, share knowledge, and improve collaboration both at home and overseas, to further strengthen our response.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “More than a 100 years ago the world condemned slavery to the history books, but the stark reality for around 40 million men, women and children is that they are still trapped in modern slavery.

“As both Home Secretary and Prime Minister I have endeavoured to shine a light on this hidden crime, to speak out for victims and put modern slavery firmly on the domestic and international agenda.

“There is much we can be proud of in our progress so far, but we need to accelerate our efforts, better share knowledge and build on our expertise.

“That is why we commissioned an Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act to ensure our laws are keeping pace with the rapidly evolving nature of these crimes, and why I am pleased to support new, innovative research to inform global efforts to end this barbaric crime by 2030.”

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport, said: “The Modern Slavery Policy and Evidence Centre is the first of its kind in the world, designed to bring together researchers, policymakers, businesses, charities and NGOs.

“The UK leads the world on this fundamental issue of human rights using evidence-based policy making, and research and innovation plays a vital role in this effort. The funding announced today through the Strategic Priorities Fund further demonstrates the UK’s commitment to ending modern slavery.”

Professor Andrew Thompson, Executive Chair of UKRI’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, added: “The centre will seek out solutions to this dehumanising and abhorrent crime by mobilising world-class research from the arts, humanities, social sciences and beyond. The centre will provide new independent, impartial insight and analysis into the causes and consequences of modern slavery – speaking to questions of prevention, enforcement, supply chains, victims’ recovery and survivor needs.”

Murray Hunt, Director of the new Policy and Evidence Centre and the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, said: “The creation of the new Centre is an exciting opportunity to transform the effectiveness of legal and policy responses to this modern scourge which shames humanity.  The Bingham Centre is privileged to have the opportunity to work closely with some of the world’s leading experts to bring about this much needed step change.”

The Strategic Priorities Fund is being delivered by UKRI to drive an increase in high quality multi- and interdisciplinary research and innovation; ensure that UKRI’s investment links up effectively with government research priorities and opportunities; and ensure the system responds to strategic priorities and opportunities.

Programme summary

Policy and Evidence Centre for Modern Slavery and Human Rights

Funding: £10 million over 5 years 

Modern slavery traps 40m people worldwide, costs the UK economy between £3.3-£4.3bn a year and is described by the Prime Minister as “the great human rights issue of our time”.  Despite the UK’s world leading Modern Slavery Act, there are still between 10,000-13,000 people enslaved in the UK, often hidden in plain sight.   

A Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) will provide independent, impartial and authoritative insight and analysis of practical utility to Government, Parliament, business, NGOs, and international organisations. It will undertake policy-focussed research, respond to strategic challenges, advance understanding and stimulate innovative and effective solutions. 

The project will be delivered via funding researchers to staff a Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) which will issue open research calls and commissioning. 

The programme is being led by UKRI Arts and Humanities Research Council with the Economic and Social Research Council and the Home Office.

The multi-disciplinary Centre will be led by the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law and will be a consortium of universities and Independent Research Organisations with a track record in world class work on modern slavery.  The partners in the consortium are the Rights Lab at Nottingham University, the Wilberforce Institute at Hull University, the Centre for the Study of International Slavery at the University of Liverpool, the Bonavero Institute on Human Rights at Oxford University and The Alan Turing Institute in London, the national institute for data science and artificial intelligence.

Return to news list