The UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Dame Sara Thornton, the UK National Modern Slavery Training Delivery Group, and Themis, with further support from other companies, have launched an anti-slavery digital learning service for financial actors across 10 of the industry’s sub sectors including retail banking, corporate banking, investment, insurance, accountancy, and crypto. It is accredited by the London Institute of Banking and Finance.
The training draws on extensive consultation and engagement with civil society, government, law enforcement and the private sector, and includes insights and video clips from experts Karen Bradley MP, Caroline Haughey QC, HSBC, Nationwide, Fidelis, Anti-Slavery International, and Transparency International, amongst others. It is free to use and accessible to all organisations, large and small across the financial sector and beyond.
Last month the UK government released figures for the number of potential victims of modern slavery referred to the Home Office in 2021. It shows a 20 per cent increase compared to the preceding year. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of vulnerable women and children fleeing the war in Ukraine are falling prey to traffickers, ready to lure them into exploitation. The business of modern slavery and human trafficking is thriving in the UK and beyond. It is not only a lucrative business; it is also a financial crime.
UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Dame Sara Thornton said, “Slavery and trafficking are economic crimes, where the commodity is a person who is exploited to make money. The responsibility to tackle modern slavery lies with us all; no single entity can address this alone. It demands a collective collaborative response.”
Far from having a backseat role, the financial sector is at the front line. Sadly, it is highly likely that we are all connected in some way to slavery, through no fault or intention of our own. This could be a direct link, because traffickers are using our services to move money through the system, or an indirect link, perhaps through a downstream client, investment or supply chain risk, through a lending or investment activity, or even the third parties we are using to help run our businesses.
OSCE special representative and co-ordinator for combating trafficking of human beings, Valiant Richey noted, “There is no other crime that exists that is so large, so expansive and so profitable, where human beings are the product as occurs with modern slavery and human trafficking.”
Themis CEO, Dickon Johnstone said, “Modern Slavery is a multi-million-pound business that’s all about the money. Traffickers are preying on the most vulnerable – men, women and children – and using them as a commodity, in the same way they might profit from drugs, arms and counterfeit goods. In fact, in many cases, there is a strong convergence with other serious and organised crimes all played out as part of a larger criminal enterprise.”
Kim Ann Williamson MBE, chair of the UK Modern Slavery Training Delivery Group said, “I am delighted to be launching this new training and I urge financial institutions to lead the way by embedding this modern slavery training within their organisations to influence raising awareness and protecting their customers from exploitation.”
Hope Sherwin, head of social impact for Themis said, “It is critical that all institutions screen their clients, investments, suppliers and 3rd parties against dedicated lists of convicted traffickers to make sure that there are no direct or indirect links to slavery within your business operations.”
Johnathan Bell, partner at RedCompass Labs said, “There are only two types of payments – good and bad. We all need to play a part in detecting and disrupting the bad payments.”