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Director of Research and Director of Policy Impact appointed

Prof. Alex Balch and Olivia Hesketh join the Modern Slavery PEC.

Published: 23rd November 2020

The Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre (Modern Slavery PEC) is pleased to announce two important senior staff appointments. Professor Alex Balch has been appointed Director of Research and Olivia Hesketh joins the Centre as Director of Policy Impact.

Professor Alex Balch joins the Modern Slavery PEC from the University of Liverpool, where he is a professor of politics, with research interests in policies on immigration and modern slavery. He leads the Antislavery Knowledge Network and is associate director of the African Programming and Research Initiative to End Slavery (APRIES). He has over 10 years’ experience designing and implementing collaborative and interdisciplinary programmes, encompassing new methods and modes of partnership across national boundaries with government, business and civil society.

Alex represents the Centre for the Study of International Slavery at the University of Liverpool on the Modern Slavery PEC’s Senior Management Board and has led an inclusive and wide-ranging consultation on the Centre’s research priorities. As Director of Research, he will now finalise the development of the PEC’s research strategy and lead the co-creation and delivery of a distinctive and independent research agenda aiming to transform our understanding of modern slavery.

“I am excited to work with partners to develop the Modern Slavery PEC’s ambitious plans for research”, said Alex. “I’m looking forward to helping to improve the relationship between evidence and policy around modern slavery”, he added.

Olivia Hesketh joins the Modern Slavery PEC from the civil service. She began her career as a government analyst across crime and policing policy areas. For the last four years, Olivia has been a policymaker in the Modern Slavery Unit in the UK Home Office, most recently leading the team that focuses on the Government’s international and prevention policies.

Olivia will lead on delivering the Modern Slavery PEC’s strategic objective of transforming the effectiveness of law and policies designed to address modern slavery. She will be responsible for developing a strategy to maximise the influence of the Centre and its collaborative partners’ work on law and policy. She will also lead on the PEC’s work to translate the findings of the research commissioned by the Modern Slavery PEC into accessible solutions for policymakers, legislators and international standards setters.

“The Modern Slavery PEC is an opportunity to transform our understanding of modern slavery and I’m delighted to be part of this ambitious project” said Olivia. “I’m looking forward to working with academics, policymakers and practitioners to produce relevant, timely, trustworthy and accessible evidence and insight that makes a real difference to the lives of people affected by modern slavery.”

The Modern Slavery PEC’s Director Murray Hunt has welcomed the new arrivals. “We are delighted to have Olivia and Alex on board. Their complementary strengths make them a perfect addition to our team at the Modern Slavery PEC.

“Alex is a very experienced researcher with particular expertise and outstanding track record in producing research that influences policy. Olivia is an experienced policy-maker who understands how research can influence and improve the quality of policy.

“Their experience, leadership and ability to work with a range of diverse partners will be a big asset to our team. I have no doubt they will provide important contributions towards our aim of transforming laws and policies against modern slavery across the world.”

In the spirit of our values, the Modern Slavery PEC operates an open, fair, equitable and competitive recruitment process for all job applicants. All our future vacancies will be posted on our jobs page.