Reinforcing Commitment to Tackling Modern Slavery

Posted by: Press team on 05 August 2020 16:47

A pledge to help protect people from modern slavery and human trafficking is set to be reinforced when South Tyneside Council's Cabinet meets next Wednesday (12 August).

In May last year, South Tyneside Council became one of the first local authorities in the country to develop a comprehensive strategy setting out how it will identify, prevent and tackle the issue of modern slavery, human trafficking and exploitation.

And every year, the Council updates and publishes its Modern Slavery Statement, which builds on the work already carried out internally and identifies any further action that can be taken to help eliminate the risks of slavery within the organisation, its supply chains and in the wider community.

The Council's decision-making body will now be asked to endorse an updated Modern Slavery Statement for 2019/20, reinforcing the Council's commitment to preventing violence and exploitation of vulnerable people.

Councillor Ed Malcolm, Lead Member for Resources and Innovation, said: "It is horrifying and hard to believe that slavery exists in modern day Britain.

"While the true extent of modern slavery is unknown, it is estimated that there are up to 13,000 victims of slavery and trafficking currently in the UK. These victims, including children, are forced against their will to work for little or no pay for the benefit of others. They are often abuse or threatened and stripped of their rights. These crimes are being committed all over the country and intelligence suggests that includes right here in South Tyneside.

"We are committed to doing all we can to reduce the risks of slavery within our organisation and our supply chains, from awareness raising and training among staff to ensuring we have robust recruitment policies and responsible procurement procedures in place.

"However, as well as being a major employer, we have first responder and community safety roles, which is why we have gone even further with the development of a comprehensive Modern Slavery Strategy.

"It is essential that we work with our neighbours, police and other partners to eradicate slavery, with the strategy setting out how we strengthen these roles, respond to and prevent these incidents, increase awareness among businesses and communities and identify and support victims.

"While we have made substantial progress, we are not resting on our laurels and will always look to do more. This form of exploitation can affect victims of any gender, age, ethnicity or national origin. This Statement, along with our Strategy, sends out a clear message that there is no place for slavery in our business, supply chains or our community."

The Statement sits alongside the Modern Slavery Strategy, which reinforces and builds upon policies and partnerships which are already in place. This includes due diligence around procurement, staff awareness training on identifying the signs of modern slavery and a whistleblowing policy which supports Council employees, contractors and partners in coming forward with any concerns.

During 2019/20, the Council also worked with partners, including the police, to strengthen local response processes through a simulation exercise, with learning from the exercise used to help inform local plans.

The Modern Slavery Statement 2019/20 is set to be considered by Cabinet members on Wednesday 12 August. The proposed updates will ensure the Council's continued compliance with section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.


It is estimated there are between 10,000 and 13,000 victims of slavery and trafficking in the UK, including children. Victims, which also include UK nationals, are exploited or forced against their will to work for little or no pay for the benefit of others. They are often abused, threatened or stripped of their rights.

Key indicators of trafficking or modern slavery include:

  • People not in possession of their own documents;
  • People appearing frightened, withdrawn and anxious, or 'controlled' or 'coached' by someone else;
  • Limited freedom of movement with victims often regularly collected early in the morning or dropped off from work late at night;
  • Signs of malnourishment, injury or lack of sleep, medical care or other life necessities;
  • Limited social interaction with those outside their immediate environment.

Anyone who witnesses any suspicious activity is urged to call the Police in the first instance or 999 in an emergency. Information can also be reported to the Modern Day Slavery helpline on 0800 0121 700 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Anyone who suspects that a child is at risk of harm or abuse or is being trafficked or enslaved in South Tyneside can call South Tyneside's Children's Safeguarding Team on (0191) 424 5010 (or 456 2093 outside normal office hours). For concerns relating to an adult, call the Adult Safeguarding Team on (0191) 424 6000 (or 456 2093 outside normal office hours).

Last modified: 06 October 2021 16:48