Southampton City Council has committed to tackle modern slavery

Councillor Dave Shields Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing led the adoption of a Charter Against Modern Slavery on behalf of Southampton City Council at this week’s Cabinet meeting.

The charter, to be known as ‘Southampton City Council’s Charter Against Modern Slavery’, commits the Council to taking action through procurement and contract management to ensure that its suppliers are not involved in modern slavery.

It is estimated that there are 13,000 people affected by slavery across the UK though trafficking and exploitation each year. The term ‘Modern Slavery’ captures a whole range of types of exploitation, many of which occur together. These include but are not limited to:

  • Sexual exploitation
  • Domestic servitude
  • Forced labour
  • Criminal exploitation
  • Other forms of exploitation include organ removal, forced begging, forced benefit fraud, forced marriage and illegal adoption.

The Charter Against Modern Slavery, which has been signed by many other councils, goes further than existing law and guidance, committing councils to proactively vetting their own supply chain to ensure no instances of modern slavery are taking place. Southampton City Council already requires its contractors to comply fully with the Modern Slavery Act 2015, wherever it applies, but the new introduction of the charter includes taking measures to invoke contract termination as a potential sanction for non-compliance in respect of all new contracts.

The Charter will be implemented by introducing a number of measures including training procurement teams to recognise and challenge signs that contractors may be using modern slaves. The Council will train its procurement team to understand Modern Slavery through the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply’s (CIPS) course on Ethical Procurement and Supply.

Councillor Dave Shields, Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing, said: "It is a sad fact that slavery still affects so many individuals in the UK in 2018 and Southampton City Council is determined to do its part to eradicate this. We are making this commitment to continue to ensure all council supplies are ethically sourced and staff are equipped to notice the signs and intervene if necessary."