New Honorary Professor in Modern Slavery welcomed at Eradicating Modern Slavery event

The University of Liverpool will officially welcome Dame Sara Thornton to the role of Honorary Professor in Modern Slavery on October 14, at an online Eradicating Modern Slavery debate, which forms part of the Federation of International Human Rights Museums (FIHRM) 10th Anniversary Conference.

Dame Sara, who is the UK’s current Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, will work to support the activities of the University’s sector-leading, Centre for the Study of International Slavery (CSIS), and partners at Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum.

The public debate will feature a keynote speech by Dame Sara, before the former Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council is joined by a panel featuring Yvonne Hall, Managing Director of the Palm Cove Society; University of Liverpool modern slavery expert, Professor Alex Balch; Emily Smith, the Curator of Contemporary Forms of Slavery and Unfree Labour at the International Slavery Museum; and CSIS Co-Director, Dr Laura Sandy, for debate, discussion and an audience Q&A.

Dame Sara Thornton said: “I was delighted to have been appointed Honorary Professor in Modern Slavery at the University of Liverpool and am excited to kick off our activities through this public event with the University and the International Slavery Museum.

“Shockingly, over 10,000 men, women and children were identified as possible victims of modern slavery or trafficking in the UK last year.

“This event is a great opportunity to listen to different perspectives on modern slavery, to think about the role of research in understanding the challenges and the role of the museum in raising knowledge and awareness.”

Modern slavery, as defined by the UK Modern Slavery Act (2015), is an umbrella term encompassing slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking.

Victims of modern slavery are unable to leave their situation of exploitation, controlled by threats, punishment, violence, coercion and deception.

The event, and subsequent partnership, follows a review by Dame Sara which called for researchers and stakeholders in this field to cultivate a culture of collaboration, understanding and respect. It also identified the need for a strategic infrastructure that could consolidate knowledge and facilitate the translation of research into impact.

CSIS Co-Director, Dr Laura Sandy said: “The University is very conscious of the legacy of the slave trade, which has shaped the institution and the city, and of the continuing global problem of contemporary slavery and trafficking.

“I’m thrilled to be working with Dame Sara and for the opportunity for the Centre to not merely research slavery, but to help fight all of its modern manifestations.”

There are an estimated 40.3million victims of modern slavery globally, and between 10,000 and 136,000 victims in the UK. The vast range in the figures reflect what remains, essentially, a hidden crime.

The Eradicating Modern Slavery Debate takes place on Wednesday October 14 from 5pm. To find out more and reserve your free spot, please visit