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Dec 1, 2017

In Episode 2 of Series 3 of The Rights Track we talk to Dr Alison Gardner, from the University of Nottingham who leads the Rights Lab’s ‘Slavery-Free Communities’ initiative. Through work with statutory, business and voluntary-sector partners, Alison’s research is developing policy and community-centred responses to modern slavery.  The research aims to make the city of Nottingham a slavery free city by 2030.


  • Alison explains how she and the Rights Lab team are working to define and explain what a slavery free community looks like
  • Much attention on the national picture, but to date very little has been done to understand what slavery looks like at a local level - this is a gap in policy because most work to prevent it takes place locally
  • Slavery free communities project is all about responding to the problem at a local level using available resources and better serving people to respond to and then prevent modern slavery


  • Discussion on how people may be ‘rescued’ from slavery but then go back into it because of a lack of support/services
  • Explanation of different stakeholders and help available and the challenges around co-ordination of services
  • Alison mentions detailed reports produced by Her Majesty’s Constabulary on police response to modern slavery. There are questions as to whether police are best placed to take a lead and the need on tackling modern slavery for more community and voluntary sector engagement 
  • The National Referral Mechanism is run by the Salvation Army and works to identify victims of trafficking or slavery - Alison points out that other NGOs working with the Salvation Army team to be national or regional rather than local
  • Potential role of the community at large to help stop and prevent the problem. Alison mentions the Clewer Initiative by the Church of England which is trying to use faith communities to try to detect and eradicate slavery


  • How the research is working to make Nottingham a slavery-free city - Alison outlines the basic tenets for this as outlined by slavery expert Kevin Bales in his book, The Slave Next Door 
  • Example of how front line staff in a business might support the detection and eradication of slavery households e.g meter readers who go into homes  
  • Alison explains that she and colleagues are also interested to know how you make an economy slavery free. This goes beyond existing supply chain legislation outlined in Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act and to think of their role as corporate citizens
  • Alison explains how the project is working with the Red Cross to look at better survivor support
  • Discussion around the need to strengthen the sharing of intelligence between agencies and how banks and hospitals might help.
  • Alison describes some of the data that might be useful in the mapping of slavery including Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO) and anti social behaviour complaints.
  • The importance of front line training for e.g. nurses in Accident and Emergency but the challenges surrounding this. 
  • How behavioural economics or ’nudging’ could help to raise public consciousness of modern slavery so that it’s more obvious. 


  • Description and discussion of the recent Rooney case which led to the jailing of 11 people for modern slavery offences and the available sanctions
  • Role of the Modern Slavery Act in increased sentences 
  • How agencies and police forces are using the tactic of ‘disrupting’ patterns of crime as well as detailed investigations needed to secure a modern slavery conviction
  • Making Nottingham a slavery free city by 2030 is going to be challenging but changing people’s mind set in that time is achievable concludes Alison.

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