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Letter: Modern day slavery - hidden in plain sight

Date published: 26 April 2018


Dear Editor,

Modern slavery is a scourge on our society, with people profiting from sexual and criminal exploitation, domestic servitude, and forced labour.

Official statistics compiled by the National Crime Agency show that last year 5,145 potential victims were submitted to the Government’s National Referral Mechanism, a 35% increase on 2016.

This is probably the tip of the iceberg – it is estimated that there are around 10-13,000 victims in the UK alone.

Local authorities have a crucial role to play as their staff are providing many vital frontline services and are in a position to identify possible instances modern slavery.

Even where modern slavery is less of a problem, councils can also use the power of their procurement spend to influence the behaviour of the companies they contract with, ensuring that modern slavery is tackled all along corporate supply chains.

That’s why the Co-operative Party, Labour’s sister party, is calling on all councils to adopt a Charter Against Modern Slavery, and as a supporter of this campaign I call on Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council to sign up to the Charter to demonstrate their commitment to tackling this abhorrent activity.

Already nine councils representing over two million people have signed the Co-operative Party’s Charter motion which seeks to ensure that the £40bn or so that local authorities spend every year doesn’t end up in the pockets of those who would exploit their fellow human-beings for profit.

So far the councils which have signed the Charter, or passed the motion for debate are : Wolverhampton City Council, Bristol City Council, London Borough of Waltham Forest, London Borough of Lambeth, London Borough of Islington, Newcastle City Council, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council, Oxford City Council and Stevenage Borough Council.

Given that the Townships already have a couple of existing Co-operative party sponsored councillors representing wards for Rochdale Council it would be really superb to see Rochdale Councillors in the birthplace of the co-operative movement sign up to this excellent Co-operative Party’s Charter motion or see that it gets moved forward for discussion at Council in due course?

Concerned councillors or readers of Rochdale Online can find out more information about the Campaign Against Modern Slavery at:

https://party.coop/policy/modern-slavery-charter/

Thanks.

Yours,

Andrew Wastling

The views expressed are those of the author of the letter and not those of Rochdale Online.

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