Cllr Andy Hull, Executive Member for Finance, Performance and Community Safety, writes about Islington’s experience of tackling modern slavery before the council’s first annual report is considered by councillors.
This article first appeared on the Co-operative Party blog: https://party.coop/2019/02/26/islington-council-takes-concerted-action-to-combat-modern-slavery/
Islington will be considering its first annual report on tackling modern slavery when the council meets tomorrow (28th February). It is a proud moment for me, having worked to help develop the Co-operative Party’s Charter Against Modern Slavery and having hosted its launch in our borough last year. Publishing an annual report on progress is one of the ten requirements of the Charter and an important way to ensure that its signatories are publicly accountable for honouring the commitments they have made.
Can other local authorities learn something from our experience in Islington? Well, every council is different, but internal coordination and external collaboration will be crucial wherever a council is trying to address the challenges modern slavery poses.
Our Adult Social Care and Children’s Social Care teams have been particularly alive to the threat and the reality of modern slavery. The latter has specialist workers for child sexual exploitation, gangs and youth violence and missing young people, plus a multi-agency Integrated Gangs Team co-located in our local police station. One issue which has emerged from this partnership working is that there were multiple ways of recording young people at risk of being caught up in County Lines drug-running – where children as young as 12 are exploited and enslaved to sell drugs in other towns and cities using dedicated mobile phones (or ‘lines’). These young people are often made to travel alone and stay in far-off and unfamiliar places, sometimes for days at a time – putting them at significant risk. In response, Islington Council has introduced a new hazard indicator on the Children Services’ recording system which enables young people at risk of involvement in County Lines to be identified – and so helped – more easily.
Over 80 councils have now signed up to implement the Charter Against Modern Slavery. Over the next few months, many other councils will be publishing their own annual reports on how they are tackling modern slavery both in their area and through their procurement processes. I am sure that there will be much good practice across the country from which Islington can learn. I look forward to reading others’ annual reports to see how colleagues elsewhere are stepping up their efforts to eliminate modern slavery here in the UK. Councils need to compare notes and replicate approaches that work if we are to eradicate the scourge of modern slavery in both our supply chains and our communities.