Council leaders have pledged their commitment to becoming a Slavery Free Community by 2030.
The Modern Slavery Pledge, signed by Council Leader Councillor Keith Glazier, the lead member for Communities and Safety Councillor Bill Bentley, and Chief Executive Becky Shaw, underlines the council’s commitment to Sussex-wide plans to end modern slavery and human trafficking.
The pledge coincides with the 10 year anniversary of UK Anti-Slavery Day which takes place this Sunday, October 18.
In signing the pledge East Sussex County Council, part of the Sussex Anti-Slavery Network, commits to:
• demonstrating strong leadership for anti-slavery initiatives
• raising awareness amongst staff, associates and the people of Sussex
• training staff to recognise and respond appropriately to potential signs of slavery
• sharing intelligence and information to help detect slavery and ensure it cannot take root
• supporting victims and survivors in the community
• remove slave-based labour from our supply chains
• contributing to building a prosperous and slavery-free economy
In the last 12 months (to September 25) Sussex Police recorded 86 crimes relevant to the Modern Slavery Act which were linked to East Sussex.
Councillor Bill Bentley, lead member for Communities and Safety, said: “We may think that modern slavery is an issue that does not concern us but sadly the figures suggest otherwise.
“This is a hidden issue in both our towns and rural communities right across the county. These cases are only the tip of the iceberg, with potentially many more that are not reported.
“By signing this pledge we are confirming our commitment to doing everything in our power to stop modern slavery happening in our local communities.
“We all have a part to play in ensuring the workers providing our goods and services are safe and being treated correctly.”
Becky Shaw, Chief Executive, said: “The council will continue to work closely with the Police and our local partners to raise awareness of the plight of the people affected by modern day slavery.
“I urge residents to be alert to signs of modern slavery and human trafficking and to report anything they think is suspicious.”
Local authorities across Sussex, along with Sussex Police, have signed the pledge to become a Slavery Free Community including Brighton and Hove City Council, West Sussex County Council, Wealden District Council and Rother District Council.
Dame Sara Thornton DBE QPM, the UK’s independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, said; “I welcome the leadership of the local authorities and partners across Sussex in working together to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking. Public bodies spend millions of pounds on procuring goods and services and this work will put them in a great position to ensure that their supply chains are resilient, sustainable and avoid the exploitation of our fellow human beings.”
Modern Slavery is regarded as Serious Organised crime. We urge those in our community to inform the Police if they have information about a potential victim, someone suspected of exploiting others or a location where it may be occurring by calling 101 or online at www.police.uk/pu/contact-the-police/report-a-crime-incident/. Where someone is at risk or if the matter is time critical, always call 999.
You can also report suspicions or seek advice from the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700, or report anonymously to Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111. All these contact numbers are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.