Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire | WYPCC

Seven strong purge on modern slavery

16th October 2020

A unique and trail blazing approach to tackling modern day slavery is set to crank up the heat on those who exploit people through business activities and supply chains.

Seven Police and Crime Commissioners and their respective Chief Constables have each worked together to develop a Modern Slavery Transparency in Supply Chains (TISC) Statement.

From Sunday 18th October, which is UK Anti-Slavery Day, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Humberside, Cleveland, Durham and Northumbria counties will operate according to this single vision.

It is a collaborative and voluntary commitment, not just to examine policing businesses and supply chains for modern slavery, but also to tackle modern slavery as a whole.

Led by West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Mark Burns-Williamson OBE as the national APCC lead for modern slavery and human trafficking, it has taken a number of months to develop and prepare.

PCC Mark Burns-Williamson says it demonstrates a true sign of shared intent and a positive example to others: “We know from the academic work and various national reports on the theme of modern day slavery that exploitation through business activities and supply chains remains an ongoing problem that can often be hidden from plain sight.

“As public bodies charged with addressing and detecting these despicable crimes within our communities, it is absolutely right and critical that we all lead by example. Only by scratching the surface, asking questions and proactively exploring the avenues of our business, can we properly address the issue of malpractice or exploitation within supply chains.

“Each of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s and Forces involved recognise this fact and acknowledge the importance of having a consistent approach that can make a tangible difference through our procurement processes which are well established within the region.

“The recent annual report from the national Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Dame Sara Thornton, for instance, underlined the importance of leadership and co-ordination in affecting change and this collective TISC Statement of intent is a great example of that. It outlines exactly how we are going to collectively achieve our goals and in addition, we will gather data via a supplier engagement tool that will inform an evolving action plan.

“Not only will this set the benchmark for other public sector organisations, but it will send out a clear message to those in the commercial and private sector as well in doing the right thing at a time of uncertainty for many.

“Already the Modern Slavery Organised Immigration Crime Programme (MSOICP) have realised its potential value and requested that we work alongside them to support and develop national best practice for the Home Office, which is exactly the sort of catalyst we want to create.”

Detective Chief Inspector Fiona Gaffney leads West Yorkshire Police’s Modern Slavery Team and says:

“Modern slavery is an abhorrent crime in which victims are treated as commodities. It has no place in modern society. Through Programme Precision, a collaborative response with West Yorkshire Police working with key partners and communities tackling serious and organised crime, we are doing all we can to safeguard victims and bring offenders to justice which includes our work with public, private and third sector through the West Yorkshire Anti-Slavery Network.

“This agreement is a real statement of intent – such abuses may ‘hide in plain sight’ but we are ensuring our own supply chains don’t exploit people in this way and at the same time sending a clear message to other businesses to make sure they are not contributing, even unwittingly, to a someone being a victim.”

PCC Mark Burns-Williamson added:

“Modern Slavery is an issue, which I and my office are personally committed to tackling and I have campaigned both locally and nationally since being elected PCC in 2012 to raise awareness of the signs, as well as providing adequate resources to West Yorkshire Police to set up a dedicated team and towards the Modern Slavery Helpline.

“From the beginning, it has featured as a key priority in my Police and Crime Plan for West Yorkshire and be under no illusion that it remains a very real and ongoing threat to our communities with connections to many other crimes.

“There are still gaps and challenges in the system that must be better identified to improve our collective response, which is why I have been really keen to drive the development of the TISC statement of intent across the seven PCCs and Force areas and would like to thank them all for their commitment to this. Collaborating across key stakeholders, businesses, charities, voluntary organisations and the public to build the necessary resilience is central to eradicating modern day slavery, especially in supply chains.

“We must keep this subject at the top of the agenda, more so now than ever before, given the impact of COVID-19 and the increased opportunities for exploitation. I will continue to work hard with colleagues to ensure that we can lead the way and set the right example about how we do business ethically.”

To report a suspicion or seek advice, call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700 or visit the webpage for further information and advice Modernslaveryhelpline.org

Modern Slavery Statement front cover