Taking a stand against modern slavery

A pledge committing the council to do all it can to make the city free of modern slavery will be signed at Full Council on 22 October.

As part of the Sussex Anti-Slavery Network, we’re joining councils in a united front across the county in signing the anti-slavery pledge to eradicate slavery and exploitation and become a slavery free community by 2030, in line with the United Nations sustainable development goals.

The pledge commits the council to work with partners, businesses and our local communities to:

  •  demonstrate strong leadership for anti-slavery initiatives
  •  raise awareness among staff, associates and residents
  •  train staff to recognise and respond appropriately to potential signs of slavery
  •  share intelligence and information to help detect and tackle slavery
  •  support victims and survivors in our communities
  •  remove slave-based labour from our supply chains
  •  contribute to building a prosperous and slavery-free economy

The signing marks the 10 year anniversary of UK Anti-Slavery Day Act on Sunday 18 October, which aims to raise awareness of human trafficking and modern slavery.

Modern slavery

Modern slavery includes domestic servitude, forced labour and the trafficking of people for exploitation, which can include criminal behaviour. There are more slaves worldwide today than at the height of the Atlantic slave trade in the 18th Century.

That includes over 136,000 victims in the UK today - and the number is growing. Modern slavery is happening in every corner of the country, including Brighton & Hove.

As part of the City of Sanctuary national network, Brighton & Hove seeks to celebrate the contribution of those that have come here for safety and to reduce isolation, fear and exclusion. 

Anti-slavery pledge

The main aim of the pledge is a strong commitment to anti-slavery initiatives through raising awareness among staff, businesses and residents. 

To support this work the council will be providing training around these issues to elected members, senior officers and all staff to help spot the signs, understand the council’s role as a first responder and our legal duty to notify the Home Office of all potential victims. 

The council will also continue to work with partners such as Sussex Police and health providers to help detect slavery and ensure it cannot take root.

National data tells us that about half of all potential victims referred into the Home Office are children who are being criminally exploited by organised crime groups, with the other half adults involved in labour exploitation or domestic servitude. 

Spot the signs

Councillor Steph Powell, joint chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Culture & Communities Committee, said: “The exploitation of vulnerable people through modern slavery is a hidden crime and it’s vital we do all we can to raise awareness of how to recognise the signs.

“Brighton & Hove rightly has a reputation for embracing and thriving on difference and for celebrating the diversity of its residents. 

“However, we face the same growing issues as everywhere else in the UK and will continue to work to be a safe and welcoming city to all who come here. 

“We’re asking everyone to be alert to signs of modern slavery and human trafficking and to report anything they think is suspicious.

“We’re also asking businesses to join us in raising awareness of the issue and do more to check where their materials come from.

“If you notice anyone with an unusual change in behaviour or mood, strange relationships or with unexplained access to money, please take action.”

Councillor Nancy Platts, leader of the opposition, said: “I fully support the pledge to eradicate enslavement and exploitation in all forms. It is heart breaking that this hideous practice still rears its ugly head to this day. It has no place in society and it is incumbent on all of us to take responsibility. 

“We should ask questions of retailers about supply chains used for our clothes and everyday goods. We should be on the lookout for people in low paid work who could be trafficked. We must ask questions and make ourselves aware, not wait to be told.

"We must do all we can to ensure our lives are not supported by those who have no rights and to speak up for those who are kept silent.”

If you suspect someone could be a victim of modern slavery, contact Sussex Police on 999, 101 or through the Sussex Police website

Alternatively, you can call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700, Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111 or the Salvation Army confidential hotline on 0800 808 3733. All are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.