IOM Hosts Conference on Modern Slavery for Sussex and Surrey Local Authorities

To mark the UK’s Anti-Slavery Day in October 2016, IOM in collaboration with the South East Strategic Partnership for Migration (SESPM) hosted a half day, CPD accredited conference on modern slavery for the Surrey, East Sussex and West Sussex local authorities.

The conference attracted over 70 participants from the local authorities, including Chief Executives, heads of services, and those with responsibility for safeguarding and anti-slavery policies. In addition, representatives from fire and rescue services, trading standards and other frontline agencies in Sussex and Surrey also attended.

In the opening conference session, speakers from IOM, the SESPM and the Home Office provided the participants with detailed information on local authority’s legal duties under the Modern Slavery Act and as first responders to proactively detect victims of trafficking and modern slavery and report such cases to the Home Office. Lucy Botting, the NHS England Modern Slavery Lead, and a Councillor in Surrey County, emphasised the need for a more integrated multi-agency approach, linking local authorities and other support services, such as health.

Roy Millard from the SESPM presented two awareness-raising videos that he developed with the support of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner’s Office as free tools to help frontline agencies, such as fire and rescue services and local authorities, to inform their staff members about modern slavery, the indicators to be aware of and to stimulate their professional curiosity.

In the second part of the conference, a number of good practices from other UK authorities (local and regional) with developed internal referral pathways, training models and multi-agency networks, were shared with participants. Antony Botting, the Modern Slavery Project Lead for the London Borough of Croydon, gave an overview of their referral pathway, the Prevention of Modern Slavery in Croydon Sub-Group (a multi-agency gathering including third sector stakeholders) and associated action plan – covering activities such as awareness-raising training, linking with health services and developing a duty to report procedure. Following this, the Executive Director of the West Midlands Anti-Slavery Network (WMASN), Robin Brierley, presented his experiences in developing one of the most well established multi agency partnerships working to counter modern slavery in the UK that engages a diverse range of statutory, non-statutory and third sector organisations. Finally, the Welsh Government’s response to modern slavery was presented by Stephen Chapman. As Welsh Anti-Slavery Coordinator, he is responsible for their strategy and delivery plan, training strategy and referral pathways. The leadership group was highlighted as a successful model of multi-agency collaboration to deliver on the strategy and plan. A new Welsh Code of Practice for Ethical Employment in Supply Chains for government offices and other institutional bodies was also presented to the attendees as a measure that ensures the transparency in supply chains clause of the Modern Slavery Act is embedded in government structures.

Concluding the event, Heather Bolton, Chief Executive Officer from South East England Councils commented that “Sussex and Surrey now have some of the key tools they need to launch multiagency mechanisms to counter trafficking and modern slavery in their respective authorities, and effectively fulfil their duties”.

IOM’s Sarah Di Giglio who hosted the Q&A session, noted the “high level of engagement expressed by the participants throughout the event” and commented on both the formal and informal success of the event in “forging links as a necessary foundation to a stronger counter trafficking approach in the region”.

For more information, please contact Sarah Di Giglio on sdigiglio@iom.int

IOM is grateful to the Shiva Foundation for supporting the conference. 

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