In this blog, the Cabinet Secretary talks about the city council's recent adoption of an anti-modern slavery policy.

At the meeting of full Council on Wednesday 19 September, councillors debated a Notice of Motion against modern slavery.

Having proposed the Notice with the full support of my fellow Labour elected members, I am proud that the city council has now adopted an anti-modern slavery policy.

Slavery remains a despicable and very often hidden side of modern life and we are determined that there will be no place for it in Sunderland.

The policy means that the council has signed up the Modern Slavery Act Charter and is committed to increasing staff awareness around what to look for, as well as ensuring our  contractors and suppliers are fully signed up to the provisions of the Act.

It is of vital importance that we seek to stamp modern slavery out as it prays on the most vulnerable people in our community - both adults and children - and sadly the numbers who fall victim to this exploitation are increasing each year.

Slavery cases have been discovered in Sunderland and the numbers of cases in the North East are reported to be second only to London. Modern slavery includes but isn't limited to forced labour, criminal exploitation, sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and forced fraud.

We are therefore making this commitment to play our part in protecting people from a life of abuse, exploitation and inhuman treatment and we want to ensure that the organisations we work with do the same.

This way we are sending a clear and united message to those who would exploit people who are vulnerable, that they are most unwelcome in the city and should stay well away.

We are proud to be joining other councils across the country who have also signed up to the Charter and we will report annually on the implementation of our Modern Slavery Policy.

Cllr Paul Stewart
Cabinet Secretary