Building on a long history of national-level policy work on modern slavery, Mr Coaker will collaborate with colleagues in the Rights Lab, as well as the University’s School of Politics and International Relations.
The Rights Lab is a University of Nottingham Beacon of Excellence, and the world’s largest and leading group of modern slavery researchers.
As part of his work with the Rights Lab, Mr Coaker will serve as Chair of a new Midlands Antislavery Research Collaborative (the Midlands ARC) that is bringing together more than 100 academics from 19 universities across the Midlands into a new anti-slavery powerhouse.
He also will focus on strategies to help protect children from trafficking, on the role of businesses in tackling modern slavery, and on work with the Rights Lab’s Modern Slavery Evidence Unit to deliver policy-relevant research.
Vernon Coaker said: “I am absolutely delighted to be joining the University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab, which is at the forefront of work nationally and internationally to tackle modern slavery.
“As we have seen, including horrific examples here locally, slavery and exploitation are still major issues. The ongoing research at the University, however, plays a major role in tackling this evil, supporting the front-line and providing much needed evidence to inform policy. I am also proud that such a Global Leader is based here in Nottingham alongside a new initiative to bring Midlands universities closer together in our anti-slavery work.
“There are still far too many victims and too much horror, and the work done by the Rights Lab never forgets this, which is why I am so pleased to be able to join them.”
Mr Coaker was Gedling MP For 22 years, from 1997 to 2019. During this time he held a number of ministerial roles and opposition ministerial roles, including Minister of State for Policing, Crime and Security, Minister of State for Schools, Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, and Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Before his 22 years in government, he spent 21 years a teacher in Nottinghamshire.
From 2015 to 2019, he was co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery. Mr Coaker is a Trustee of the Human Trafficking Foundation which grew out of the work of the APPG on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery.
His recent report for the Council of Europe called for more international work to tackle human trafficking, the presence of anti-trafficking commissioners in all countries, and an international Parliamentary network to tackle human trafficking.
Professor Zoe Trodd, Rights Lab Director, said: “I am thrilled to welcome Vernon to our University and to the Rights Lab.
“He is a real anti-slavery leader, and his work on combatting modern slavery has galvanised many researchers and stakeholders across the UK and internationally.
“We were honoured to work with him during his former role in Parliament, and are very excited to now build new initiatives around our shared commitment to understanding and tackling one of the great human rights issues of our time.”