Dame Sara Thornton DBE QPM

Sara Thornton

Rights Lab Professor of Practice in Modern Slavery Policy


Professor Dame Sara Thornton DBE QPM focuses in the Rights Lab on research in the area of prevention, business responses, supply chains, and the role of the financial sector in tackling modern slavery. Her work also has a focus on policy-relevant modern slavery research, and achieving impact from research evidence in national and international contexts.

Dame Sara completed a three-year term as the UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner in April 2022, a role in which she spearheaded the UK’s fight against human trafficking and modern slavery. She joined the Metropolitan Police Service in 1986. During her 33-year career within policing she served as Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police from 2007 until 2015. She was the national lead on intelligence; Vice-Chair of ACPO Terrorism and Allied Matters; Director of the Police National Assessment Centre; and ACPO Vice-President. She was the first Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council from 2015 to 2019. She was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in 2006, made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2011 and a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2019. She has been recognised with a Career Achievement Award from the Police Training Authority Trustees and the Sir Robert Peel Medal for Outstanding Leadership in Evidence-Based Policing. She is an honorary Air Commodore in the Royal Air Force supporting the work of the auxiliary police squadron, Chair of the Government Skills and Curriculum Unit Leadership Advisory Board, and a trustee and board member of the Police Foundation.


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