A unique and trail blazing approach to tackling modern day slavery is set to crank up the heat on those who exploit people through business activities and supply chains.

Seven Police and Crime Commissioners and their respective Chief Constables have each worked together to develop a Modern Slavery Transparency in Supply Chains (TISC) Statement.

From Sunday, October 18, which is UK Anti-Slavery Day, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Humberside, Cleveland, Durham and Northumbria counties will operate according to this single vision.

It is a collaborative and voluntary commitment, not just to examine policing businesses and supply chains for modern slavery, but also to tackle modern slavery as a whole.

Led by West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Mark Burns-Williamson OBE as the national APCC lead for modern slavery and human trafficking, it has taken a number of months to develop and prepare.

PCC Mark Burns-Williamson says it demonstrates a true sign of shared intent and a positive example to others: “We know from the academic work and various national reports on the theme of modern day slavery that exploitation through business activities and supply chains remains an ongoing problem that can often be hidden from plain sight.

“As public bodies charged with addressing and detecting these despicable crimes within our communities, it is absolutely right and critical that we all lead by example. Only by scratching the surface, asking questions and proactively exploring the avenues of our business, can we properly address the issue of malpractice or exploitation within supply chains.

“Each of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s and forces involved recognise this fact and acknowledge the importance of having a consistent approach that can make a tangible difference through our procurement processes which are well established within the region.

“The recent annual report from the national Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Dame Sara Thornton, for instance, underlined the importance of leadership and co-ordination in affecting change and this collective TISC Statement of intent is a great example of that. It outlines exactly how we are going to collectively achieve our goals and in addition, we will gather data via a supplier engagement tool that will inform an evolving action plan.

“Not only will this set the benchmark for other public sector organisations, but it will send out a clear message to those in the commercial and private sector as well in doing the right thing at a time of uncertainty for many.

“Already the Modern Slavery Organised Immigration Crime Programme (MSOICP) have realised its potential value and requested that we work alongside them to support and develop national best practice for the Home Office, which is exactly the sort of catalyst we want to create.”

Chief Constable Jo Farrell, of Durham Constabulary, said: “The collaborative approach between these seven forces shows a clear understanding about widespread nature of this horrendous situation people can find themselves in and how it must be tackled together to make things better.

“In addition, we are also taking a multi-agency approach and working closely with several of our partners so we can protect those who are often the most vulnerable in our society.

“Slavery should be consigned to history but sadly we know it still exists in its modern-day form in 21st Century Britain.

“We are taking a long hard look at all ourselves to ensure that absolutely nothing we do inadvertently supports this abhorrent practise and we would urge all organisations to do the same.”

Steve White, Acting Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner for County Durham and Darlington said: “I have given priority to addressing modern day slavery in the Police, Crime and Victims’ Plan 2018-21 and determined to put things in place to make this less prevalent in County Durham and Darlington but above all, the priority is identifying, supporting and protecting the victims of these horrific crimes that prey on the most vulnerable people in our society.”

To report a suspicion or seek advice, call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700 or visit the webpage for further information and advice Modernslaveryhelpline.org

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT THE WEST YORKSHIRE OFFICE OF THE POLICE AND CRIME COMMISSIONER VIA Contact@westyorkshire.pcc.pnn.gov.uk