Housing & youth care providers urged to be “at the forefront of the fight against modern slavery”

Merseyside / July 03

Housing and care providers for young people are being urged to be at the “forefront of the fight against modern slavery” by taking advantage of new training organised by the region’s Police Commissioner designed to ensure they are aware of important new changes in the law.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy has arranged the training to ensure businesses are aware of upcoming changes to the Modern Slavery Act which will require public sector bodies to do more to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking, both within their organisation and the whole of their supply chain.

Following a review of the Modern Slavery Act led by Rt. Hon. Yvette Cooper MP in 2018, a series of recommendations have been made to make the law more effective. Crucially, this includes a new obligation for organisations with a turnover of £36m or more to produce an annual modern slavery transparency statement. This statement will require organisations to set out what they are doing as an organisation to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking.

Failure to comply with these new requirements could lead to organisations being excluded from future public sector commissioning and procurement procedures.

In preparation for the changes, the region’s Police Commissioner has united with Southport-based not-for-profit company Libre Solutions Ltd to host a day of training at the International Slavery Museum on Tuesday 9th July.

The event will ensure organisations have a better understanding of how organised crime can infiltrate business to put victims to work, the potential risks, and ensure businesses are equipped with a range of protective measures to protect themselves and ensure they are compliant with the changes in legislation.

Jane said: “In the UK, slavery was abolished more than 180 years ago. Yet we know it’s still happening today and sadly in our own communities, here in Merseyside. These changes to the Modern Slavery Act will support efforts to put a stop to slavery and human trafficking and ensure large organisations are playing their part in facing this issue.

“I recognise that businesses will require help and support in understanding these changes. So, as a first step, I am arranging to host a series of education awareness events, each aimed at different sectors, to help organisations prepare for the significant new responsibilities they face.

“This first workshop is designed for organisations which provide housing and care for young people. These are businesses which have the ability to implement changes that can make a genuine difference, protecting some of the most vulnerable people and young people in our neighbourhoods.

“This training will help those organisations by ensuring they are fully aware of these important changes and know how to respond appropriately, putting their business at the forefront of the fight against modern slavery.

“I would urge organisations working in this sector to send staff to this event and ensure they are equipped and ready to face these changes head on, ensuring they don’t fall foul of the Act while also playing their part in protecting their service users.”

Libre Solutions trustee Gary Spratt said: “Viewing slavery as an embarrassment from Britain’s colonial past is commonplace, but modern slavery, is in fact, one of the fastest growing crimes in the world. With more people enslaved today than at any time in history, and with organised crime groups putting slaves to work in industries across the UK, the horrors of slavery are still very real.

“We work with partners and businesses, identifying supply chain vulnerabilities that organised criminals exploit to extract money and abuse vulnerable workers. Libre Solutions feel privileged that Merseyside Police Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy, has asked us to put on these events, as slavery is too abhorrent a crime to ignore.

“Many businesses only become aware that they are employing modern slaves once it is too late, and victims are found to have been put to work within their supply chains. As well as the obvious suffering of the victims, the brand and reputational damage this causes can be devastating. Things can be done, and processes put in place, at minimal cost to protect businesses from this threat. Prior to the Abolition vote, in 1789, William Wilberforce told Parliament, ‘You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know!’ He was right then and he still is today.”

All profits from the event will go to victims’ services and tickets can be purchased via the Eventbrite website here Merseyside PCC Modern Slavery Act Changes or go to the EVENTBRITE website and search “Merseyside Modern Slavery”.