Anthony Steen has had four careers: first as a youth leader and community worker in the East End of London at the Bernard Baron Settlement with Sir Basil Henriques, the former Chief London Magistrate. From the East End he started Task Force which in its heyday involved 15,000 young people helping London’s elderly and lonely. At the same time, Mr Steen was developing his second career as a Barrister specialising in landlord and tenant and aviation law in Sir John Foster’s chambers.
His third career began in 1968, when Harold Wilson, then PM, invited Mr Steen to establish a national counterpart to London’s Task Force and, with government funds and a nation-wide campaign, Mr Steen established the Young Volunteer Force to involve young people in tackling problems in their own communities. From 1974 to 1983 Mr Steen represented Liverpool Wavertree as the only Conservative MP in the city. As a result of boundary changes, Wavertree disappeared and, between 1983 and 2010, Mr Steen was MP in South Devon where he campaigned on a number of different issues and wrote a number of books. As a member of the European Scrutiny Select Committee, he came across a number of former victims of trafficking from Romania and, as a result, Mr Steen established an All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking to raise awareness in Parliament of this growing evil. This is now one of the largest and most successful APPGs in the Commons and the Lords.
In 2010, Mr Steen introduced an Anti-Slavery Day Bill, which became law one day before Parliament dissolved and resulted in Anti-Slavery Day being officially acknowledged each year on the 18th October.
On leaving Parliament in 2010, together with the Rt Hon. Clare Short and Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, Mr Steen established a new foundation specifically to target human trafficking. The Human Trafficking Foundation brings together NGOs throughout the country at forums and in working groups to produce reports and best practice initiatives. In addition, the Foundation is at the helm of a European initiative funded by the European Commission to establish a network of parliamentarians against human trafficking in every EU parliament.
In 2015, Anthony was awarded CBE for his outstanding contribution to the fight against modern slavery.