Britain’s first anti-slavery commissioner has taken a swipe at the Home Office as it emerged he is to stand down.
Kevin Hyland was appointed by then-home secretary Theresa May in 2014 to spearhead the UK’s efforts to tackle modern slavery.
In a letter to Mrs May advising her of his intention to end his term as commissioner, Mr Hyland said independence is “vital” for the success of the post.
With a heavy heart I have recently met the Prime Minister to advise her of my decision to end my term as the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner. I am grateful to all with whom I have worked in this crucial role: https://t.co/xOi1ydloFH— Kevin Hyland (@KevinHyland63) May 17, 2018
He added: “At times independence has felt somewhat discretionary from the Home Office, rather than legally bestowed.
“I hope that any future incumbent can be assured the independence I am sure you intended as the author of the legislation.”
Modern slavery encompasses a broad range of offending including exploitation, forced labour, domestic servitude and human trafficking.
An official estimate previously indicated there are up to 13,000 potential victims in the UK, but experts have said the number is now significantly higher.
The role of Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner was established as part of the Modern Slavery Act.
Mr Hyland, who will take up the position of chief executive at ChildFund Ireland, said it had been a privilege to work with Mrs May, and praised her for securing the legislation.
I hope that any future incumbent can be assured the independence I am sure you intended as the author of the legislationKevin Hyland
He added: “Over the last four years the NGO, private sector and governmental partners with whom I have worked domestically and internationally have taken enormous strides to improve the lives of victims and to move towards systems that simply will not tolerate the heinous abuses of modern slavery.”
The Prime Minister thanked Mr Hyland for his service and said he had made a “significant contribution to shining a spotlight on the scale and nature of modern slavery in the UK and internationally”.
Minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability Victoria Atkins said the Home Office is “working with the Commissioner in his final months to see how this important role can be further strengthened”.