Islington Council last week became the first local authority to sign up to a new national charter tackling modern slavery – and is urging others to follow suit.
The list of ten pledges, drawn up by the Co-operative Party, is aimed at eliminating slavery among councils’ suppliers and contractors.
Local authorities across the country collectively spend around £40 billion per year procuring goods and services.
The Charter Against Modern Slavery commits Islington to ensuring that any company it hires complies fully with the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
The council has also signed up to educating staff and contractors about the practice, including how to blow the whistle on it, and to reporting any contractors identified as a cause for concern – particularly those offering “abnormally low-cost tenders”.
The Town Hall’s community safety chief Cllr Andy Hull said: “Slavery in today’s society has a new face. Many of us will have passed people in the street who are living in conditions of slavery or interacted unwittingly with them in our everyday lives.
“We are training our staff to look for signs of modern slavery and report it, and now we’re using our significant purchasing power to ensure that our contractors and suppliers do the same.”
The charter was later signed by Oxford, Bristol, Lambeth, Waltham Forest, Stevenage and Bassetlaw councils at an event on Friday at Islington Town Hall.
Islington says it already does significant work with victims and the police to tackle slavery and disrupt organised criminal networks.
Cllr Hull, who signed the charter alongside local MP Jeremy Corbyn, added: “Modern slavery is an insidious practice that can lurk behind seemingly legitimate businesses. But such slavery is not altogether invisible, if we know what to look for. It can be found, and so it can be ended.
“Islington Council is proud to be the first local authority to sign this national charter, and we encourage other councils to do the same.”
You can read the charter in full here