Modern Slavery Act and Transparency Statement

We recognise the key importance of safeguarding vulnerable individuals/groups and or raising awareness

IN THIS ARTICLE

  • Legal duty for councils
  • Modern Slavery Transparency Statement
  • Charter against Modern Slavery
  • Spot the signs and report your concerns

The overall aims of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 are to pursue organised criminals and opportunistic individuals behind the modern-day slave trade and to prevent people from engaging in modern slavery crime. Other aims are to protect vulnerable people by raising awareness and protecting them from becoming victims and to be better prepared for when these crimes do take place and reduce the harm they cause.

Modern Slavery is estimated to be one of the world's most profitable criminal activities. A 2014 assessment conducted by the Home Office estimated that there were between 10,000 and 13,000 victims in the UK. Sexual exploitation is the most common form of modern slavery currently reported by potential victims in the UK, followed by labour exploitation, forced criminal exploitation and domestic servitude.

Legal duty for councils

The legal duty relates to the functions of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner whose role is to act in the interests of victims and potential victims by ensuring that the law enforcement response to modern slavery is coordinated.

Section 43 of the Act states that specified public authorities (including borough councils) have a duty to co-operate with the Commissioner:

  • The Commissioner may request a specified public authority to co-operate with the Commissioner in any way that the Commissioner considers necessary for the purposes of the Commissioner's functions.
  • A specified public authority must so far as reasonably practicable comply with a request made to it under this section.

The Commissioner's Strategic Plan was published in October 2015. One of the identified priorities is "...best practice within partnership working" based on the following models:

  • Working to ensure partnerships are in place across the country that enable effective communication streams between relevant bodies including, but not limited to, law enforcement, local authorities, health care bodies and NGOs.(3.11)
  • Promoting best practice, providing comprehensive guidance and encouraging further development of outcome-focused models across the UK. (3.12)

Section 54 of the Act also requires the Council to consider Modern Slavery as part of its procurement strategy, ensuring that contractors and third parties have policies in place and adhere to the law and their responsibilities.

Modern Slavery Transparency Statement

Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act requires the Council to publish a statement of the steps it has taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any of its supply chains, or in any part of its business. You can see this statement published within the 'Related Documents' section immediately below.

Modern Slavery Act 2015 - Transparency Statement 2017/18

For enquiries or information, please contact sonia.carr@colchester.gov.uk for Safeguarding or joanne.besant@colchester.gov.uk for equality.

Charter against Modern Slavery

In July 2018 the Council agreed unanimously to adopt and apply the Co-operative Party’s Charter Against Modern Slavery (as far as is legally possible).

All Suppliers to the Council will be asked to confirm that they/their organisation has, and will, take action to address risks to human rights identified within itself and its supply chain. This action is to include the adoption of a whistleblowing policy that enables staff to blow the whistle on any suspected examples of modern slavery.

Spot the signs and report your concerns

 All of the following signs may be indicators of concern:

  • Adults or children who rarely come out of the house and speak little English.
  • Faces that can be seen at windows often looking stressed and never smiling.
  • House or flat curtains closed during much of the day
  • Frequent visitors to residential premises, arriving and leaving at unusual times.
  • Cars or minibuses picking up foreign nationals at unusual times.
  • Teenage girls who appear to be unhappy living with older, unrelated males, who drive them about.
  • Commercial premises that survive despite having a clear lack of regular business.
  • Children who are collected from school each day by different people who are not related.
  • Low price deals offered at the door involving cheap labour and for cash

If you come into contact with an individual, look out for the following:

  • Is the person lacking in self-esteem, or do they seem anxious with an expression of fear?
  • Does the person act as if they are instructed by another?
  • Is the person in possession of their legal documents?
  • Are they bonded by debt or is money deducted from their salary?
  • Are they are in need of medical care?
  • Have there been threats against the individual or their family members?
  • Are they distrustful of authorities?
  • Is there any evidence to suggest deception or coercion may be taking place?
  • Do they have any injuries that may be the result of controlling measures?

Some of the above may also be indicators of abuse, neglect or other forms of exploitation. Victims of Modern Slavery can be found  in private houses, and commercial premises including but not limited to nail bars, car washes and fast food establishments. Wherever you are receiving a service below the market rate, you should be alert to possible signs of exploitation.

If you come across single signs/ indicators in isolation or in combination, you should report your concerns: This may be the only chance we have to prevent harm, or further harm, from occurring to a vulnerable individual.

How to report your concerns:

•      In an emergency always call the Police on 999

•      Suspicious activity - call 101 or https://essex.police.uk/do-it-online

•      Modern Slavery Helpline - 24 hour help and advice – 0800 0121 700

•      Anonymous - Crime Stoppers - 0800 555 111

•      Adult Victim - The Salvation Army - 0300 303 8151

•      Child Victim - Essex Social Care - 0345 603 7627

UK City Transparency Map

In partnership with GOV.UK, TISCreport has published a live ‘transparency map’ to show ‘how local authorities are using their buying power to begin to drive modern slavery and labour exploitation out of their supply chains.’ Councils can upload their suppliers onto the site and see which ones comply with the Modern Slavery Act, and users can click on any council which has joined the scheme to see how many of its suppliers have complied with the Act or have produced a modern slavery statement (including Colchester Borough Council - click on the map in the link shown below).

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