Cracking Down on Modern Day Slavery
Councillors will next week be asked to support a plan aimed at protecting people in South Tyneside from modern slavery.
An updated strategy has been developed which builds on the work already carried out since the strategy was first adopted three years ago. This seeks to respond to recent challenges, including those which have emerged post-Covid and greater numbers of local people facing financial hardship with the cost of living crisis.
A report to Borough Council will ask Members to endorse the updated strategy and action plan in line with the Council's priority of supporting vulnerable groups.
The strategy involves greater awareness-raising and training of staff to identify modern slavery and ensuring council services respond effectively where it is identified, including supporting police with their operations. A report to Members also recommends strengthening responsible procurement policies in the business and supply chains as well as raising awareness of modern slavery in the community.
Councillor Joanne Bell, Lead Member for Governance, Finance and Corporate Services, said: "It is a sad reality that modern slavery affects people of all genders, nationalities, ages and backgrounds. However, particular circumstances, including limited resources and isolation from communities, can make people particularly vulnerable to exploitation.
"Issues such as the cost of living crisis and Covid-19 may make particular groups more vulnerable to exploitation. The rising cost of living is pushing more people into an economically precarious position where they are potentially more vulnerable to exploitation. Meanwhile, labour shortages and a rise in labour costs have the effect of making cheap labour more appealing to unscrupulous businesses.
"Against this background, it is vital that the Council and its partners are vigilant and remain committed to doing all we can to stamp out this heinous crime."
Members will meet next Thursday (8 September) to discuss the report.