Outgoing anti-slavery chief says government not doing enough to stop traffickers acting with impunity

The outgoing independent anti-slavery commissioner has said the government is continuing to fail victims of modern slavery despite the issue being one of Theresa May's flagship policies.

Kevin Hyland, who was appointed by then home secretary Mrs May in 2014, said traffickers are acting with impunity while support for victims remains "disappointing".

The Modern Slavery Act was brought in in 2015 and became very much a political passion for Mrs May who told the Commons in 2014: "Modern slavery has no place in Britain, and like many people in this House and beyond, I want to see it consigned to history."

But while there were initial signs of progress after the introduction of the Act, including a rise in trafficking prosecutions in England and Wales of over 50 per cent to almost 300 in 2016, the latest figures show just six per cent of all recorded modern slavery crimes ever lead to charges.

Mr Hyland, who resigned his post in May, told ITV News: "I think the legislation is very good indeed but I think implementation needs to be more focused on what it was designed for so that it actually supports the victims, actually puts people in prison, actually takes the assets away from criminals and works to prevent this happening in the first place."

But he said victims were continuing to be failed despite the UK leading the fight against modern slavery internationally.

There has been success under the Modern Slavery Act. Credit: ITV News

"I think it's very disappointing that progress on the support of victims has been so slow. Clearly there has been a lot of money gone into it but has it resulted in victims having a better experience and getting the support they need?" he said.

"The priority needs to move from talking about it, and looking at the issue and raising awareness to one where you are really bringing the fight to the criminals.

"They need to be scared that the knock they get on the door tomorrow is from law enforcement."