Barking and Dagenham is the latest London Borough to sign the Co-operative Party’s Charter on Modern Slavery, bringing the total number of councils which have signed, or passed an enabling motion, to 12. These councils serve over 4 million people and include Bristol, Islington, Lambeth, Waltham Forest and South Tyneside, and Wolverhampton.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said:

There is no place for modern slavery in our society and we all have a responsibility to work towards ending this appalling crime. Making sure our supply chains are free from exploitation is just one of the ways we can help to achieve this and I’m extremely proud that Barking & Dagenham Council has adopted the Co-operative Party’s charter.

Claire McCarthy, General Secretary of the Co-operative Party, welcomed the news:

I am delighted that Barking and Dagenham Council has signed the Charter, ensuring nowhere to hide for perpetrators of this appalling crime in their supply chain.

The term ‘Modern Slavery’ captures a whole range of types of exploitation, many of which occur together. These include but are not limited to sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced labour, criminal exploitation and other forms of exploitation including organ removal, forced begging, forced benefit fraud, forced marriage and illegal adoption.

Collectively, local authorities in England spend more than £40bn each year procuring goods and services. The Co-operative Party, which has worked with NGOs and local government procurement teams on the project, has created a Charter on Modern Slavery which commits councils to proactively vetting their own supply chain to ensure no instances of modern slavery are taking place. Councils have a number of statutory duties under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, but this charter goes further than law or guidance. It provides a series of commitments that councils can make to ensure their supply chains are not contributing to modern slavery, which is estimated to affect at least 13,000 victims across the UK every year.