Hertsmere Borough Council has signed a pledge indicating slavery will not be tolerated in the borough.

In conjunction with UK Anti-Slavery Day on October 18, the council has signed a pledge to the national Charter Against Modern Slavery.

Modern slavery is a growing problem globally and can take many forms, including the coercion, exploitation, deception and/or trafficking of people for labour, sex, criminality, organ removal, marriage and servitude.

Although slavery is illegal in every country, it still happens all over the world, including, the council says, in Hertsmere.

The charter includes a 10-point plan committing the council to undertake activities to ensure that its supply chains are exploitation free.

The commitment comes within days of the Government announcement that public bodies with a budget of £36m or more will soon be legally required to report on the steps that they are undertaking to combat modern slavery in their supply chains, including uploading their modern slavery statement for publication on a new Government reporting service.

Over half of Hertfordshire local authorities have now signed up to the Charter.

Watford Observer:

Hertsmere Civic Centre in Borehamwood

Hertsmere borough councillor Meenal Sachdev, who is director of Shiva Foundation - an organisation which aims to end human exploitation in all forms - said: "I am so pleased that Hertsmere Borough Council and Hertfordshire Modern Slavery Partnership (HMSP) have worked together over the past few years to find ways of fighting human trafficking and modern slavery.

"The signing and adoption of the Charter Against Modern Slavery is yet another example of positive partnership working and the council’s commitment to tackle exploitation."

Council leader Morris Bright added: "Modern slavery can be happening all around us without us being aware, be it in nail bars, farms, factories or restaurants, and we don’t see it because we’re not looking for it.

"By adopting this charter, it sends a clear message to anyone in Hertsmere or working for Hertsmere Borough Council that it will not be tolerated."

Watford Observer:

Council managing director Sajida Bijle and Cllr Bright

Under the umbrella of the HMSP, the council works in collaboration with more than 80 local agencies and charities from across the county to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking in all its forms.

Anyone with concerns about human trafficking or modern slavery should call the police via 101 or the national 24/7 Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700. In an emergency, call 999.

The Beacon hotline 03000 11 55 55, which supports all victims of crime in Hertfordshire, is open from Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday 9am to 5pm.

Or visit www.stopexploitationherts.org.uk

The Charter against Modern Slavery commits the council to

1. Train its corporate procurement team to understand modern slavery through the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply’s (CIPS) online course on Ethical Procurement and Supply.

2. Require its contractors to comply fully with the Modern Slavery Act 2015, wherever it applies, with contract termination as a potential sanction for noncompliance.

3. Challenge any abnormally low-cost tenders to ensure they do not rely upon the potential contractor practising modern slavery.

4. Highlight to its suppliers that contracted workers are free to join a trade union and are not to be treated unfairly for belonging to one.

5. Publicise its whistle-blowing system for staff to blow the whistle on any suspected examples of modern slavery.

6. Require its tendered contractors to adopt a whistle-blowing policy which enables their staff to blow the whistle on any suspected examples of modern slavery.

7. Review its contractual spending regularly to identify any potential issues with modern slavery.

8. Highlight for its suppliers any risks identified concerning modern slavery and refer them to the relevant agencies to be addressed.

9. Refer for investigation via the National Crime Agency’s national referral mechanism any of its contractors identified as a cause for concern regarding modern slavery.

10.Report publicly on the implementation of this policy annually.