Salford City Council is intensifying its efforts to tackle modern slavery, which affects tens of thousands of people in the UK.
The council, which has already signed up to the Co-operative Party’s Charter against modern slavery, has recently published its first Modern Slavery statement.
The document sets out a number of actions to ensure it does not condone or support human trafficking and modern slavery. The measures are designed to encourage the identification, rescue and support of victims and prosecution of those who exploit and harm them.
As part of its strategy, the council has facilitated training for 16 staff members and people from Salford organisations so they can identify victims more effectively and make referrals into support. All council commissioning and procurement staff will also undergo training.
Under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, councils must notify the Home Office of all potential victims and make enquiries where modern slavery offences are suspected.
In 2015 a council officer who was investigating scams at an address in Eccles helped to rescue a deaf mute girl who had been trafficked into the UK from Pakistan. She had suffered ten years of modern slavery and abuse. The council employee alerted police, which led to her liberation and the prosecution of the couple holding her.
Organisations providing goods and services to the council must also agree to comply with the provisions of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. To ensure that abuse is not taking place, the council pledges to challenge any abnormally low-cost tenders to ensure they do not rely upon the potential contractor practising modern slavery.
Furthermore, its tender documents will also highlight that contracted workers are free to join a trade union and are not to be treated unfairly for belonging to a trade union. The council recommends that contractors adopt a whistle-blowing policy, which enables and encourages staff to report any suspicions of modern slavery.
Council staff responsible for services and contract management will review contracted spend on a regular basis to identify any risk of modern slavery and contact the relevant agency if any risks or concerns are identified.
Cllr David Lancaster, lead member for environment and community safety, said: “Modern slavery is a vile crime which has no place in Salford or anywhere in the world. No one should be treated as a commodity and exploited for criminal gain.
“As a council, one of the ways we can take action against exploitation is by expecting our suppliers to pay or work towards paying the real Living Wage and sign up to the provisions of the 2015 Modern Slavery Act. We can also set high employment standards as a benchmark for others to follow in Salford.”
The council is also leading a Salford Community Safety Partnership, which brings together the council, police and other agencies to fight crime and keep the community safe.
Another initiative set up ten years ago called Project Gulf works to deter and prosecute gangs and seize their money under the Proceeds of Crime Act to fund community projects.
The council is encouraging those who want to report a case of modern slavery to call the helpline 0800 0121 700.