ECPAT UK has welcome the announcement of the appointment of Eleanor Lyons as the new UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner. The appointment follows 18 months without a person in the important statutory role. Ms Lyons is currently Deputy to the Children's Commissioner for England and was selected by the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman.

The appointment comes after a significant void in the independence, advocacy and focus that the role brings. During that time the UK Government made significant changes to its treatment of victims of modern slavery and trafficking including implementation of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 and the passing of the Illegal Migration Act 2023, effectively removing protection for victims and contrary to international law.

The role of the Commissioner established by the Modern Slavery Act 2015, is independent of government and its function as set out in Part 4 of the Act is to encourage good practice in the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of slavery and human trafficking offences and the identification of victims, having regard to assist and support to them. The work includes making report, recommendations, research, information, education or training, consultation and collaboration in the UK and internationally and the Commissioner is accountable through a strategic plan and annual reports which are laid before Parliament.

Ms Lyons will commence the role on 11 December 2023 for a fixed period of three years.

Patricia Durr, CEO of ECPAT UK said: 

"After so long with this critical statutory role vacant, ECPAT UK welcomes the appointment of a new Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner. We look forward to working with Eleanor Lyons and trust that with all of her work supporting the Children’s Commissioner for England she will have a clear focus on the human rights of victims of modern slavery and of the particular needs and experiences of children in the face of the myriad forms of child exploitation.

The independence of this role is critical and there is much to be done to reinforce the premise and ambitions of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and the principles of children’s welfare, safeguarding and protection enshrined in both international and domestic law."

 Notes to editors:

  1. ECPAT UK press contact: [email protected] and 020 7607 2136
  2. Press release from