18th July 2019
Council chiefs have signed a charter pledging to do all they can to make Sandwell a slavery free community.
Council leader Councillor Yvonne Davies and interim chief executive David Stevens signed the charter this week in front of councillors.
Modern slavery includes forced labour, sexual exploitation or criminal exploitation. This could include being forced to commit criminal offences such as shoplifting or selling drugs.
The charter says: “As leaders in Sandwell we, the undersigned, commit to doing everything in our power to make our borough free of modern slavery.”
The council is already working very closely with the police and partner organisations to tackle criminal networks and rescue people from exploitation.
The charter commits the council to working proactively with national and local government, law enforcement agencies, businesses, the voluntary and community sector, faith bodies and local communities to:
- Demonstrate strong local leadership for anti-slavery initiatives
- Raise awareness among staff, associates and the people the council serves on a daily basis
- Train staff to recognise and respond appropriately to potential signs of slavery
- Share intelligence and information to help detect slavery and ensure it cannot take root
- Support victims and survivors in communities
- Remove slave-based labour from supply chains
- Contribute to building a prosperous and slavery-free local economy.
Councillor Davies said: “Modern slavery is real and happening in our communities in Sandwell. It can happen anywhere and victims can be men, women and children of all ages, but it’s often more prevalent among the most vulnerable and socially excluded groups.
“We all have a part to play in spotting the signs and reporting slavery and human trafficking. It’s vital we demonstrate strong leadership and stand together with our partner organisations and our communities to continue tackling this issue and do all we can to make Sandwell slavery free.”
Call the confidential Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 if you think you may be a victim of modern slavery, need help to seek safe accommodation and support or have seen something suspicious. People can also report through the Unseen app, which is available to download.
Visit www.sandwell.gov.uk/modernslavery to find more information on signs of slavery and human trafficking to look out for.
Sandwell is working with partners across the West Midlands region, which stands in support of the United Nations Global Sustainable Development Goal 8.7, to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, abuse and exploitation by 2030.
PHOTO CAPTION – Councillor Yvonne Davies and David Stevens with the signed charter