West Oxfordshire councillors pledge to make a stand against modern slavery

West Oxfordshire District Council logo. NNL-151028-141515001
West Oxfordshire District Council logo. NNL-151028-141515001

Councillors in West Oxfordshire have pledged to make a stand against modern slavery by training staff and being vigilant.

The council will adopt the Charter Against Modern Slavery which will help ensure that no workers are being exploited by companies which provide it with goods and services.

Cllr Merilyn Davies and Cllr Michele Mead’s motion was approved unanimously at a meeting of the full council on Wednesday (October 24).

The motion set out a requirement for staff at the council’s principal partners, Publica, GLL and Ubico to be trained to recognise signs of modern slavery.

It also outlined the need for appropriate channels to report potential cases along with the requirement for all contractors to comply with the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

It added that any cases should be referred to the National Crime Agency and a yearly summary of actions taken should be included in the council’s annual performance report.

The charter is an initiative being promoted by the Co-operative Party with councils across the country signing up, including Cherwell District Council in July.

Modern slavery can involve people trafficked into forced labour in industries such as agriculture, construction, hospitality, manufacturing and car washes. Many women and girls are trafficked for sexual exploitation.

The motion follows an earlier call for councillors to be vigilant in the battle against modern slavery, abuse and exploitation by Cllr Norman MacRae, cabinet member for community safety, who wrote to members last month, asking them to be aware of how some residents could be at risk.

Cllr MacRae and other council officers are working with the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Boards and other partnerships to raise awareness of modern slavery and how it can be tackled as well as a raft of other issues including sexual abuse; violence; drug use and dealing and radicalisation.

“Slavery is not a thing of the past – it is becoming more prevalent in modern society and we must fight it. Only by bringing these issues to light can they be stamped out,” he said.

“This initiative will ensure the council is vigilant in ensuring all its suppliers treat their workers with the respect and fairness they deserve and I wholeheartedly endorse it.”

Anyone with concerns wishing to discuss safeguarding in general, should contact Simon Wright, Community Safeguarding Officer, on 07508 548817 or email simon.wright@westoxon.gov.uk