Modern slavery and human trafficking statement

Our vision

Essex County Council recognises its responsibility to take a robust approach to modern slavery and human trafficking.

This annual statement sets out Essex County Council’s actions to understand all potential modern slavery risks related to our activities and to put in place steps to eliminate acts of modern slavery and human trafficking within our business and in our supply chains, sub-contractors and partners.

The Council is committed to preventing slavery and human trafficking in all its activities, and to ensure our supply chains are also free of this. The publication of this Annual Statement is part of that commitment and highlights our activities to address this.

Definition of modern slavery

Modern slavery is a heinous and often hidden crime and the impact can be devastating for the victims. Modern slavery can be broadly grouped into four categories but is not limited to:

  • sexual exploitation: this includes sexual abuse, forced prostitution and the abuse of children for the production of child abuse images or videos
  • domestic servitude: this involves victims being forced to work in usually private households, performing domestic chores and childcare duties
  • labour Exploitation: this can happen in various industries, including construction, manufacturing, laying driveways, hospitality, food packaging, agriculture, maritime and beauty (nail bars)
  • criminal exploitation: this can be understood as the exploitation of a person to commit a crime, such as pick-pocketing, shop-lifting, cannabis cultivation, drug trafficking and other similar activities that are subject to penalties and imply financial gain for the trafficker
  • other forms of exploitation include organ removal, forced begging fraud, marriage, and illegal adoption

Within our own business

We have a number of procedures in place that contribute in trying to ensure modern slavery does not occur in our business:

  • robust recruitment policy and process which are compliant with UK employment legislation, the process includes a number of pre-employment checks, for example 'right to work' document checks, referencing and understanding any employment gaps. DBS checks are undertaken for relevant posts
  • employee code of conduct and mandatory training which defines the responsibilities and standards required for all who work for and on behalf of us including interims, agency workers and employees seconded to other organisations
  • reporting knowledge or suspicion of slavery through our whistleblowing procedures and hotline which ensures that staff or members can raise their concerns confidentially without fear of reprisal
  • we have responsibility to develop, implement and monitor policies and processes to safeguard the welfare of vulnerable adults and children and works within multi-agency partnerships to protect and safeguard people
  • staff awareness training for specific staff which supports the Modern Slavery Act

Within our supply chain

Our procurement activity complies with the Councils Procurement Rules and the wider Public Contract Regulations 2015. We utilise a Category Management approach to minimise market risks concerning modern slavery within our large and complex supply chain. For example, category plans and strategies utilise market risk assessment tools to identify countries that use child and forced labour to produce goods and services.

To comply with the Modern Slavery Act 2015, we have updated our professional and technical ability tender questions within the procurement sourcing process. The questions require a bidder to evidence their compliance with the Modern Slavery Act if they are a relevant commercial organisation as defined by Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. Any bidder who fails to evidence their compliance with the required legislation shall be excluded from participating further in the tender process.

Incorporated within our standard contract terms are clauses that specify the supplier’s contractual obligation concerning Modern Slavery.

Any supplier engaged by us to undertake the supply of goods and or services is contracted to do so in line with our following policies:

  • safeguarding
  • equality and diversity code of conduct
  • whistleblowing

These policies are key to ensuring that staff employed by our supply chain have appropriate channels to report any incidents of slavery and human trafficking.

Policies, due diligence and audit process

Our supplier relationship and contract management teams utilise supply chain management techniques to ensure that effective contract management is applied to direct suppliers and their supply chain to deliver our requirements in the most cost-effective manner.

This would include the identification and management of risks in relation to modern slavery and human trafficking. This is done by:

  • increasing openness, transparency, and efficiency in the management of supply chains
  • improving ability to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in supply chains
  • improving communications with suppliers
  • enhancing relationships with suppliers

The teams are also responsible for undertaking annual audits on suppliers to ensure compliance with the contract agreement. The team is continuing to review how modern slavery is incorporated into the contract management process.

Training

Staff in our procurement team have completed training for Modern Slavery Act 2015 and wider diversity and equality issues. As an addition the procurement department has co-produced an internal training module which covers modern slavery for internal staff.

Further information

This statement will be reviewed on an annual basis. The next review will take place on 1 April 2022.

This statement is also on the UK Government Modern Slavery Statement Register which went live on the 6th May 2021.

This statement has been signed by Kevin Bentley Leader of the Council and Gavin Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Essex County Council.

Further information on modern slavery can be found on GOV.UK.

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