Councillors have unanimously agreed to help stamp out modern slavery after a motion was passed last night.

Tabled by Labour councillor Asif Khan, the approval by Watford Borough councillors means the council will sign the charter against modern slavery.

More than 40 million people worldwide are victims of modern slavery, according to the International Labour Organisation, with around one in four children.

Speaking last night, Cllr Khan said modern slavery has “no basis” in the UK and spoke about stories of people living in this country who are affected by human trafficking and forced to work to pay off a debt they can’t afford to pay.

Among the steps the council will take as part of signing up to the charter, Watford Borough Council will:

  • Train its corporate procurement to understand modern slavery
  • Require its contractors to comply fully with the Modern Slavery Act 2015
  • Challenge any abnormally low-cost tenders
  • Highlight to suppliers that contracted workers are free to join a trade union
  • Publicise its whistle-blowing system for staff and tendered contractors to blow the whistle on any suspected examples of modern slavery
  • Review its contractual spending regularly
  • Refer any risks highlighted to the relevant agencies
  • Refer for investigation via the National Crime Agency’s national referral mechanism any of its contractors identified as a cause of concern regarding modern slavery
  • Report publicly on the implementation of this policy annually

The motion agreed by all councillors states: “This council believes that modern slavery is one of the great evils of our time and that it needs to be stamped out. In order to do this, and reflect the views of the people of our town, we will sign the charter against modern slavery”.

A similar motion submitted by Labour councillor Steve Cox at a full Three Rivers District Council (TRDC) meeting last month was amended after it was found the council was doing almost all of the steps in the charter.

Leader of TRDC, Cllr Sara Bedford, said: "Three Rivers is proud to lead the way in supporting the fight against modern slavery and human trafficking, which are dehumanising acts and criminal activities."