Agenda item



Councillor Tom Usher introduced a report which informed that Wirral Council had set out a Strategy, Action Plan and Code of Conduct addressing Modern Slavery to ensure a coordinated approach together with partners and communities, to prevent criminals being able to prey on the most vulnerable people in the Borough.


The Cabinet noted that under Section 17 of the Crime and Disorder Act councils had a duty to do all that they reasonably could to prevent crime and disorder in their administrative areas, which included modern slavery and trafficking.


As part of Pledge 19; ‘Wirral’s Neighbourhoods are Safe’, the Safer Wirral Partnership Board had already committed to protecting the most vulnerable victims of crime.  The Cabinet noted that the Wirral Modern Slavery Officers Group was meeting regularly to monitor progress of Wirral’s Modern Slavery Action Plan and report to the Safer Wirral Partnership Board which would be responsible for the governance of Wirral’s Modern Slavery Strategy.


Wirral’s Modern Slavery Strategy had been scrutinised by the Elected Members Working Group in October 2018, where it also had considered the recommendations of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting of November 2016:


The Elected Members Working Group had taken into account the borough wide concerns about Modern Slavery and had endorsed both the priorities laid out within Strategy and the recommendations from the Committee to be incorporated into a Modern Slavery Action Plan for Wirral. 


This was a key decision.


Appended to the report were:


·  Wirral Modern Slavery Action Plan 2018 - 2021;

·  Wirral Modern Slavery Strategy 2018 - 2021;

·  Wirral Council Supplier Code of Conduct; and

·  Wirral Modern Slavery Scrutiny Report of the Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee – November 2018.


Councillor Usher reported that the Modern Slavery Strategy had been presented to the Cabinet because Members wanted to do all that they could to respond to and combat modern slavery in all of its forms and that encompassed human trafficking, slavery, servitude and forced labour.  Members noted that modern slavery was the fastest growing organised crime in the world and it was growing rapidly in the UK and regionally as well.


Councillor Usher informed that between 2011 and 2017 there had been a 300% increase in the number of modern slavery victims in the UK and on Merseyside the cases that had been identified had grown from 38 to 89 which was an increase of 134%.  Often it was the most vulnerable and isolated people who had fallen victim to modern slavery and they either, did not recognise their situation, or had no personal connections in the country, other than with those who had been actually exploiting them.


Councillor Usher also informed that the Modern Slavery Act had been passed in 2015 to tackle the worst exploitation and that Wirral Council had signed up to the Co-operative Party’s Charter against Modern Slavery in 2016.  This was to ensure that the Council’s procurement practices did not support modern slavery in any of its forms, to consider the wider impact of it and to ensure that it calculated its response in a strategic way.  The Strategy had been the result of work by a Cross-Party Scrutiny Working Group.  Originally, the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee had looked at this. Councillor Usher thanked the Elected Members who had been involved and informed that they had called upon Officers, Academics, Third Sector Organisations and Expert Witnesses to contribute to the completed Strategy which was the end result.


Actions around the Strategy itself had been ongoing for the past year or so.  Significant training had been rolled out throughout the partnership with all the Council’s partners on the Wirral.  The most recent development had been the Council’s Supplier’s Code of Conduct which had been introduced to hold the Council’s suppliers to account, to ensure that they had stringent arrangements in place to make sure that they were modern slavery resistant and that they maintained high levels of employment and working standards.


Councillor Usher thanked the Council’s Community Safety Planning Manager who had put significant work into this Strategy, along with the previous Cabinet Portfolio Holder, Councillor Paul Stuart for his important contribution.


Councillor Anita Leech informed that modern slavery was an absolutely disgraceful act, forcing people to work through mental or physical threat, owned or controlled by an abusive employer.  This dehumanised people, they were physically constrained having restrictions placed on their freedom.  She welcomed anything that could be done to combat this.




That the Cabinet adopts:


(1)  the Wirral Modern Slavery Strategy;


(2)  the Wirral Modern Slavery Action Plan; and


(3)  the Council’s annually updated Modern Slavery/Human Trafficking Statement.

Supporting documents: