Businesses unite together to tackle modern slavery

handshake” by 드림포유 is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Professionals and businesses joined together at the Warwickshire Modern Slavery Business Pledge Conference, which was hosted at IBM on 12th of March 2020.

Professionals and businesses who attended this conference included: Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe, Warwickshire Police Serious and Complex Crime Team, National Crime Agency, Gangmsters & Labour Abuse Authority, Slave Free Alliance, IBM Warwick, Sandfield Farms, and BMW Group.

Many of the professionals and businesses that attended this event had an interest in signing or have already signed the Warwickshire Modern Slavery Business Pledge, because they believe modern slavery still exists in the workplace and tackling it together is key in order to fight against this heinous crime.

According to the Modern Slavery Act 2015, a person commits an offence if –

(a) the person holds another person in slavery or servitude and the circumstances are such that the person knows or ought to know that the person is held in slavery or servitude, or

(b) the person requires another person to perform forced or compulsory labour and the circumstances are such that the person knows or ought to know that the other person is being required to perform forced or compulsory labour.

For example, modern slavery refers to someone who:

  • may be forced to work through mental or physical threat
  • owned or controlled by an ’employer, usually through mental or physical abuse or the threat of abuse
  • dehumanised, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as ‘property’
  • physically constrained or have restrictions placed on his/her freedom

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 also states that “every organisation carrying on a business in the UK with a total annual turnover of £36m or more will be required to produce a slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year of the organisation.”

However, those organisations who do not meet the annual turnover, which is below £36m, can choose to voluntarily produce a ‘slavery and human trafficking statement.’ Because this is a voluntary, Warwickshire Police department has stepped in to encourage businesses to sign the Warwickshire Modern Slavery Business Pledge in order to protect themselves and victims of modern slavery.

The Warwickshire Modern Slavery Business Pledge conference informed business leaders the large need there is to sign a pledge, which allows businesses to commit to tackling Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking in all forms, including in supply chains.

By signing the pledge, businesses are making a pledge to support those who are troubled and may be victims of modern slavery. If a businessman or businesswoman suspects one of their employees are victims of human trafficking he or she can easily and quickly file it online through the Warwickshire Business Watch website and then it can be investigated.

The Warwickshire Business Watch was created to provide information and advice to businesses in order to protect themselves from becoming victims of a crime. 

Modern slavery is often seen in beauty services, car washes, and hospitality and accommodation; however, that does not limit where modern slavery can be found. 

During the Warwickshire Modern Slavery Business Pledge Conference, I interviewed the Police and Crime Commissioner of WarwickshirePhilip Seccombe. Seccombe said the main signs to look for in a victim of modern slavery are whether or not they can recall their address, if they get paid regularly, and if they know who they work for.

Philip Seccombe, PCC of Warwickshire, also said there is a great importance for businesses to know how to identify modern slavery in the workplace.

We want to raise it as an issue. It has victims, real victims, who suffer. We want to be able to make sure that they don’t. So to do that, we have businesses – often modern slavery occurs in businesses, rather than in the family home.

Philip Seccombe, Warwickshire PCC
Philip Seccombe interview

I also interviewed Bogdan Fironda – who is the Business Crime Advisor of Warwickshire – in which he expands further on why signing the Warwickshire Modern Slavery Business Pledge is so important.

“It effects our economy, vulnerable people … It must be eradicated from businesses.

One thing that we wanted to do today is businesses knowing that modern slavery still exists, under what forms, and how can we together help tackle this.”

Bogdan Fironda, Warwickshire Business Crime Advisor
Bogdan Fironda interview

Tackling modern slavery has become a point of high interest for the Warwickshire County Council Community Safety Team, Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner, and the Warwickshire Police department.

Philip Seccombe, Warwickshire PCC, addressed the fact that whole idea of bringing businesses together was to educate them on recognising the signs of modern slavery within their businesses.

It not only helps and protects a businessman or businesswoman from becoming a victim of a crime, but it could also potentially help a victim of modern slavery by giving them the support that they need.

Often a victim themselves won’t come forward, because they are being coerced or they are in effect modern slaves.

We want to encourage victims of this awful crime to come forward and tell their story so that we can do something about it and put the perpetrators in the criminal justice system. 

Philip Seccombe, Warwickshire PCC

If you know of someone who may be or may become a victim of modern slavery you can go online to the Warwickshire Business Watch website to report it to be investigated, call the Modern Slavery Helpline at 08000 121 700, or you can call 999 if it’s an emergency.

By Jessica Quinlan, Freelance Journalist Updated March 16, 2020
By Jessica Quinlan, Freelance Journalist Updated March 20, 2020

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