Sara Thornton (Photo by Steve Parsons - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

ONE of Britain’s most senior police officers was today (22) appointed the country’s new anti-slavery chief.

Sara Thornton, head of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) since 2015, will take up the position on a three-year contract in May, the Home Office said.

Kevin Hyland was appointed as the inaugural independent anti-slavery commissioner in 2014 as part of Britain’s landmark Modern Slavery Act, but he resigned last May and left the post in August, saying his work been hindered by government meddling.

Hyland was widely hailed for helping to champion the world-first law and pushing the

United Nations to adopt a target to end slavery by 2030 among a set of global goals agreed in 2015.

“Good progress has been made in recent years and I am committed to build on that and do what I can to consign this crime to history,” Thornton said in a statement.

Home secretary Sajid Javid said Thornton would provide “valuable insight and advice” as the commissioner.

“The fact modern slavery still exists in the shadows of our communities is totally unacceptable,” he said in a statement.

Britain announced in July it would review its 2015 law amid criticism that it is not being used fully to jail traffickers, drive big businesses to stop forced labour, or support victims.

Thornton will be expected to push for better identification and protection of victims, drive efforts to prevent slavery and trafficking, work with companies to push for slavery-free supply chains, and cooperate with other nations, the Home Office said.

Britain has about 136,000 modern slaves, according to the Global Slavery Index by rights group Walk Free Foundation – a figure 10 times higher than a government estimate from 2013.

About 7,000 suspected victims of slavery were uncovered in Britain last year, up a third on 2017, data showed.