Public sector organisations are being urged to be at the “forefront of the fight against modern slavery” by taking advantage of new training being offered 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 session to ensure public sector organisations, and those who provide services and goods to them, are aware of upcoming changes to the Modern Slavery Act.
The Act requires public sector bodies to do more to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking, both within their organisation and the whole of their supply chain. 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 training day at the International Slavery Museum.
The event, on 19th November 2019, will focus on ensuring any organisation in a public sector supply chain, or any which wish to secure public sector funding, fully understands how the Modern Slavery Act will impact upon them.
On Anti-Slavery Day last year, Merseyside’s five local authorities were among 50 councils across the UK who signed the Co-operative Party Charter against Modern Slavery pledging their commitment to tackling this issue. The pledge obliges councils to proactively vet their own supply chain to ensure no instances of modern slavery are taking place. It also encourages councils to ensure they challenge any abnormally low bids to ensure they are not using contractors who may be using slave labour and refer on for investigation any contractors who cause concern.
Jane said: “In the UK, slavery was abolished more than 180 years ago. Yet we know the horrors of slavery are still happening today, as seen in Essex where sadly the bodies of 39 people have been recovered from a refrigerated truck, but also 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 fighting this abhorrent crime.
“I recognise that businesses of all kinds require help and support in understanding these changes, so I have organised this training to help organisations prepare for the significant new responsibilities they face.
“Our five local authorities signed the Co-operative Party Charter against Modern Slavery on Anti-Slavery Day in 2018 and I want to help them to ensure they are delivering on that pledge. Our councils, and other public sector agencies, 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.
“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 ensuring they are at the forefront of the fight against modern day slavery.”
Libre Solutions trustee Gary Spratt said: “Stories are breaking on a daily basis describing the abhorrent crime of human slavery. It is now the highest earning criminality in the world and surpasses the illegal drugs market.
“Labour exploitation accounts for the highest percentage of slavery victims. That means, organised criminals are looking to put their slaves into businesses all over the UK in order to make as much money as they can.
“Merseyside’s Police commissioner is to be applauded for taking a positive stance against this and Libre Solutions are pleased to support this work in whatever way we can.”
This new training follows on from a previous educational event at the International Slavery Museum in July aimed at housing and youth care providers. Attendees provided extremely positive feedback following the event, with one participant commenting: “I thought I understood a little of modern slavery, but your explicit and powerful presentations made me realise I had completely underestimated the sheer scale and sophistication of the slave masters. The event affected me on an emotional level.”
All profits from the event will go to victims’ services.