Tower Hamlets Council has signed the Co-operative Party’s Charter on Modern Slavery, bringing the total number of councils which have signed, or passed an enabling motion, to 12. The Charter commits councils to proactively vetting their own supply chain to ensure no instances of modern slavery are taking place.
The term ‘Modern Slavery’ captures a whole range of types of exploitation, many of which occur together. These include but are not limited to sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced labour, criminal exploitation and other forms of exploitation including organ removal, forced begging, forced benefit fraud, forced marriage and illegal adoption.
Collectively, local authorities in England spend more than £40bn each year procuring goods and services. Councils have a number of statutory duties under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, but this charter goes further than law or guidance. It provides a series of commitments that councils can make to ensure their supply chains are not contributing to modern slavery, which is estimated to affect at least 13,000 victims across the UK every year.
Cllr Rachel Blake, Deputy Mayor for Regeneration and Air Quality, signed the Charter on Saturday 9th June on behalf of the Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs, at the Co-operative Party’s Local Government Conference in Coin Street, London.
Cllr Rachel Blake said: “I’m very pleased to work with colleagues in the Co-operative Party and sign the Charter on behalf of Tower Hamlets Council. This is such an important issue and the Charter is a strong step forward in tackling modern slavery.”
Mayor John Biggs said: “Modern slavery is deeply concerning and we’re determined to tackle it head on. We’re working closely with the Co-operative Party to root out modern slavery and their Charter is a key part of that. The Charter Against Modern Slavery sends a strong message that as a borough we will not tolerate any form of exploitation.”
Claire McCarthy, General Secretary of the Co-operative Party, welcomed the news: “I am delighted that the London Borough of Tower Hamlets has signed the Charter. Their commitment to this agenda will ensure that there is nowhere to hide for perpetrators of this appalling crime in their supply chain.”