The Global Slavery Index 2016: How is a hidden crime measured?

This blog post is the first in a series of research-focused, evidence-based posts about modern slavery. We recognise the vast amount of high-quality research available and seek to direct readers to it through a quick, easy to read format.

The Global Slavery Index (GSI), Part of the Walk Free Foundation, is a country-by-country map of the estimated prevalence of modern slavery and the governmental response. Despite critiques, the Index is a valuable way to allow “objective comparison and assessment of both the problem and adequacy of the response in 167 countries.”[1]

How is a hidden crime measured?

The 2016 GSI measures prevalence of modern slavery, vulnerability and government responses. A detailed methodology is available here. For those of us with less patience, we’ve summarised the key points of the approach below.

The GSI measures prevalence of modern slavery through data collected from 25 surveys of more than 28,000 respondents in 52 languages and state-level surveys in India. In total, 42,000 respondents in 53 different languages contributed to the dataset. This was then used to extrapolate to other countries based on an equivalent risk profile. This approach is a massive undertaking. In comparison, the prestigious Edelman Trust Barometer has been running for 16 years yet only consists of a survey of 28 Countries and 33,000 respondents.[2]

Vulnerability is measured through a model with 24 variables, covering topics such as political rights and safety, financial and health protections and conflict. High-level statistical testing – which I could not begin to explain – was used to identify and group these factors.

Finally, government response is a score based on 98 indicators of good practice. Indicators, for example, including whether there is a law, or support to victims or labour standards. Governments are assigned a rating which could range from AAA to D. This component was developed in partnership with DataMotivate.

Together, these three components provide a high-level summary of the status of modern slavery and the government response in 167 countries.  

What is the UK’s score?

Number of people living in modern slavery: 11,700 (2016)

Vulnerability: 26.79/100

Government Response Rating: BBB

It is estimated there are 11,700 people living in modern slavery in the UK. Of those identified through the National Referral Mechanism, the government’s response to responding to victims of modern slavery, the country of origin varies. The 6th largest group of NRM-identified victims are from the United Kingdom. Of course, these statistics do not reflect those who are not known to the system.

The disaggregated vulnerability score includes civil & political protections (18.45%), social, health and economic rights (20.37%), personal security (21.83%) and refugees and conflict (46.50%). What these scores mean in practice is not explained in detail.

The UK government most notable progress in the last few years, of course, is the 2015 Modern Slavery Act as well as the first prosecution for forced marriage under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

Despite the UK’s comparatively positive result, the GSI has a number of policy recommendations including implementing recommendations on the Overseas Domestic Workers visa, ensuring provision of specialist foster care for trafficked children and increasing funding for victim-support shelters and services.

Want to learn more? Here’s what Kevin Bales had to say about GSI 2016.

Have time for a long read? Read Anne Gallagher’s two part series on Unravelling the GSI.

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