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Florence Nightingale Lecture – Friday 12th March 2021

12 Mar 21

Speaker:     Professor Sir Bernard Silverman FRS, Professor of Modern Slavery Statistics, University of Nottingham and Emeritus Professor of Statistics, University of Oxford

Date:            Friday 12th March 2021, 3.30 pm

Title:            Statistics and the fight against modern slavery

Abstract:   Modern slavery takes many forms and has only in recent decades come to wide public and political consciousness.  The Modern Slavery Act 2015 consolidated a number of relevant offences, and introduced a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.  The numbers of victims known to the authorities, and of prosecutions, have considerably increased in recent years,  but modern slavery persists, both in the UK and worldwide.

A number of different statistical approaches have been used in the fight against modern slavery and other hidden crimes.  I will survey and explore some of these, and consider their role leading up to the Modern Slavery Act and in subsequent developments, also focusing on specific methodological issues. There are also broader questions about presenting statistical evidence in an area where there is so much uncertainty.

At the present time all attention is on COVID-19 but problems such as modern slavery do not go away; indeed they may become worse.  I hope that the lecture will provide the opportunity to reflect more widely on what is the best appropriate statistical contribution to what is an important and disturbing aspect of public policy.