Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Public Policy|Southampton

Consultation response | Victims of Modern Slavery Inquiry

Modern Slavery

Victims of Modern Slavery Inquiry

Department of Social Statistics & Demography

A response from the University of Southampton | December 2016


Read the call for evidence Download the response

Submission from Professor Peter van der Heijden, University of Southampton

1. The focus of the Committee’s Inquiry is the how victims of modern slavery can access support and benefits. In order for the Government to plan and deliver services to these victims, it needs to have a better understanding on the size of problem and the characteristics of those victims. This is not a straightforward task, as modern slavery is by nature hidden and official statistics do not capture its extent.

2. The size of the problem was investigated for the year 2013 by the Home Office. The Government’s 2014 Modern Slavery Strategy [1] notes:

“The Home Office has been working to establish whether it is possible to estimate the number of cases of modern slavery that have not come to our attention in order to enable us to provide an estimate of the potential scale of modern slavery in the UK. Based upon analysis using established statistical methods, the Home Office Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Bernard Silverman, has estimated that in 2013 there were between 10,000 – 13,000 potential victims of modern slavery in the UK7. Whilst this figure can only be an estimate and should be considered as such, it is consistent with our view that the scale of modern slavery in the UK is significant and demands a comprehensive strategic response.”

3. An analysis on new data is urgently needed for three reasons:

4. The UNODC and the Walk Free Foundation have recently signed an agreement to develop a better understanding of the prevalence in trafficking people for slavery across a number of countries [3], which we will be carrying out. New data from the UK could also contribute to this analysis and help lead to a better international picture of the problem.



[2] Van Dijk, J. and P.G. M. van der Heijden (2016). On the potential of Multiple Systems Estimation for estimating the number of victims of human trafficking across the world. Written for the UNODC, where it appeared as Research Brief ‘Multiple Systems Estimation for estimating the number of victims of human trafficking across the world’. See


We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.