Stevenage signs up for Modern Slavery Charter
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
Stevenage stands in the front line against modern slavery – that was the message as the borough council signed the Co-operative Party’s Modern Slavery Charter.
The Labour-run borough council’s leader Sharon Taylor signed the charter on behalf of the authority, as an extension of the existing Stevenage Against Domestic Abuse initiative.
It is estimated that there are up to 13,000 victims of slavery in the UK today – with sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and forced labour just some of the horrific forms it can take.
The Modern Slavery Charter aims to ensure that exploitation has no place in council supply chains.
Mrs Taylor said: “Modern Slavery is one of the great evils of our time and needs to be eradicated. It is only through the combined efforts of council-led programmes like SADA Modern Slavery Initiative and the Modern Slavery Charter that we can start to implement changes at a community level to tackle such a horrific problem.”
Mrs Taylor was flanked at the signing ceremony by East of England Labour MEP Alex Mayer, who said: “Slavery sounds like something from history but shockingly it still exists today in Hertfordshire. This is a dreadful crime that strips people of their dignity and freedom.
“Sadly the number of identified victims is increasing across Europe, so I welcome the hugely important lead that Stevenage council is taking on this issue. Modern-day slavery is something that is important to bring out into the light, so people can spot the warning signs.”
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Stevenage Against Domestic Abuse, combined with the newly-adopted Modern Slavery Charter, will aim to support those escaping to safety with one-to-one support, help for family members and training for frontline staff in recognising signs of exploitation.
Each council involved in the charter has committed to train their corporate procurement teams, challenge any abnormally low-cost tenders and report any contractors they feel may be of concern regarding slavery.
Stevenage Borough Council has also committed to report publicly on this policy each year.
The Prime Minister Theresa May last month pledged tougher action against modern slavery during her tour of Africa – saying the UK would work with France to help Nigeria and Niger strengthen their borders to help reduce human trafficking.