Nowhere to hide for modern slavery in our supply chains

Councils collectively spend £40bn each year.
Help us ensure none of it is funding exploitation.

What is modern slavery?

Modern Slavery is one of the great evils of our time and it’s happening under our noses.

In nail bars, car washes, farms, factories and restaurants, it is estimated that tens of thousands of people in the UK could be victims.

More about modern slavery

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

Other forms of exploitation including organ removal, forced begging, forced benefit fraud, forced marriage and illegal adoption

In short Modern Slavery is where traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment.

Modern Slavery can affect adults and children, and last year 51% of victims were female and 49% male. 15% of victims were referred for domestic servitude; and there are now more victims exploited for labour than those who had been trafficked for sex.

It affects foreign nationals, but many of those exploited are from the UK and exploited within this country. In 2016 the third largest victim group came from the UK.

There are very different estimates of the scale of the problem

victims of modern
slavery in the UK in 2013

Image credit: Crown Copyright | Figure source: Home Office

victims of modern
slavery in the UK in 2016

 Figure source: Global Slavery Index 2018

The £40bn question

Collectively, local authorities in England spend more than £40bn per year procuring goods and services our behalf.

From car washes to cleaning and construction, councils do business with literally hundreds of different suppliers–both big and small. Many of those firms will have contractors and suppliers of their own too.

Supply chains are a complex business. So how do we make sure none of our money  is used to support exploitation?

Councils across England and Scotland are leading the way with a new Charter to ensure exploitation has no place in council supply chains.

The Co-operative Party's Charter Against Modern slavery goes further than existing law and guidance, committing councils to proactively vetting their own supply chain to ensure no instances of modern slavery are taking place.

Councils implementing the Charter:

Allerdale, Andover, Ashfield, Bradford, Brent, Barking and Dagenham, Bideford Town Council, Blackburn with Darwen, Brighton & Hove, Bristol, Birmingham City Council, Calderdale, Cannock Chase, Chelmsford, Cherwell, Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Chesterfield, Chorley, Colchester, Cotswold District Council, Coventry, Croydon, Dacorum, Darlington, Derby, Dundee City Council, Ealing, East Ayrshire, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh, Enfield, Forest of Dean, Guildford, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, Great Torrington Town Council, Hackney, Haringey, Harrow, Hammersmith & Fulham, Hertsmere, Hyndburn, Islington, Kirklees, Knowsley, Lambeth, Lewisham, Lincoln, Liverpool,  Lowestoft Town Council, Merton, Manchester City, Midlothian, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newham, North Ayrshire, North Warwickshire, North West Leicestershire, North Yorkshire, Oldham, Oxford, Patchway Town Council, Plymouth, Preston, Rochdale, Rotherham, Renfrewshire, Salford, Sefton, Sheffield, South Lanarkshire, Southampton, South Tyneside, Southwark, Stevenage, Stockport,  Stockton, St Helens, Stirling, Stoke-on-Trent, Suffolk County Council, Sunderland, Surrey County Council, Swindon, Tameside, Three Rivers, Tower Hamlets , Trafford, Waltham Forest, Watford, West Lancashire, West Lothian, West Oxfordshire, Wirral, and Wolverhampton.

If you're interested in getting your own council signed up too, let us know by emailing


To report a case of modern slavery

For more information, advice, or to report a case of modern slavery please call the Modern Slavery Helpline 0800 0121 700 or visit

[Your Council Name] will:

  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 non-compliance.
  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.

Promoted by Joe Fortune on behalf of the Co-operative Party, both at Unit 13, 83 Crampton Street, London, SE17 3BQ, United Kingdom. Co-operative Party Limited is a registered Society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014. Registered no. 30027R.