Prime Minister Theresa May has unveiled a £33.5m ($44.3m) budget to tackle the "barbaric evil" of modern slavery in Britain. The money will be taken from the foreign aid budget and fund a newly-formed government task force, geared towards closing down routes used by human traffickers in countries such as Nigeria, Thailand and Bangladesh.
May, who took over as the UK's prime minister from David Cameron on 13 July, introduced the Modern Slavery Act to tackle slavery in the UK last year when she was home secretary. Now, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, May said Britain will lead the global fight against modern slavery.
"This is the great human rights issue of our time, and as prime minister I am determined that we will make it a national and international mission to rid our world of this barbaric evil," she wrote.
"Just as it was Britain that took a historic stand to ban slavery two centuries ago, so Britain will once again lead the way in defeating modern slavery and preserving the freedoms and values that have defined our country for generations."
A review by barrister Caroline Haughey into the Modern Slavery Act found that 289 modern slavery offences were prosecuted in 2015, with nearly 900 modern slavery crimes recorded by police between April 2015 and March 2016. There are estimated to be up to 13,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK alone and more than 45 million globally.
Individuals trapped in modern slavery include those who are forced into prostitution and hard labour.
"From nail bars and car washes to sheds and rundown caravans, people are enduring experiences that are simply horrifying in their inhumanity," May wrote.
"Vulnerable people who have travelled long distances believing they were heading for legitimate jobs are finding they have been duped, forced into hard labour, and then locked up and abused.
"These crimes must be stopped and the victims of modern slavery must go free."