Greater Manchester Businesses Join Forces To Tackle Modern Slavery

22 January 2018

Businesses from across Greater Manchester joined forces on the 19 January to help tackle modern slavery and human trafficking.

In a bid to tackle what is seen by many as the greatest human rights issue of our time, representatives of around 15 different companies attended the first meeting of the Greater Manchester Modern Slavery Business Network, organised by the Co-op.

The network will draw on the support and advice of Programme Challenger, which is Greater Manchester’s partnership approach to tackling serious and organised crime. It brings together the police, general public, local authorities, charity STOP THE TRAFFIK and other agencies to protect the vulnerable, and safeguard those at risk from becoming victims, or perpetrators.

Greater Manchester Police was recently named as a leading force for its response to modern slavery and human trafficking in a recent report inspecting all 43 UK forces, by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS). By using various intelligence-led methods within the work of Programme Challenger, they are able to disrupt and dismantle organised crime groups across the city.

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires certain businesses to produce an annual transparency statement setting out the steps they have taken to ensure that there is no slavery in their own operations and supply chains. However, the Network will enable many progressive businesses that recognise they have a responsibility to go beyond compliance to act as industry leaders in order to eradicate modern slavery in all its forms.

Paul Gerrard, Group Policy and Campaigns Director at the Co-op said: “Manchester has a history of fighting slavery and standing with those enslaved, which dates back to 1863 when Abraham Lincoln wrote to the people of Manchester about the ‘heroic’ stand they had taken to support his fight to end slavery in the American Civil War.

“Greater Manchester is ideally placed to develop the Business Network. Not only does our city have a proud heritage in this area, but tackling modern slavery is a priority right now for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), and we are delighted that the meeting was attended by Baroness Beverley Hughes, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime.”

Deputy Mayor of Policing and Crime, Beverley Hughes said: “Greater Manchester is leading the way with strong partnerships and collaboration to tackle one of the most serious crimes affecting our society today. I am delighted to open what I am sure will become a thriving and useful network for businesses in the region, and it is tremendous that so many businesses want to work with us to tackle the scourge of modern day slavery and exploitation.

“Modern slavery is a key priority for me, the Mayor and Greater Manchester Police. The new Police and Crime Plan reflects this ongoing commitment to support work in this area. As the awareness of modern day slavery grows, the more victims step forward and the more crimes are reported.

“Through the work of Programme Challenger and charity STOP THE TRAFFIK, we hope to create a culture in Greater Manchester where businesses and individuals feel free to speak openly about the challenges of modern slavery. Our primary goal must be to work collaboratively to protect some of the most vulnerable people from this illegal and inhumane practice.”

In March last year, the Co-op and anti-trafficking charity CityHearts launched the Bright Future programme which gives survivors of modern slavery a four-week work placement within the Co-op food business, with the opportunity to turn this into a full-time job. So far, 15 men and women have accepted jobs at Co-op stores or warehouses. The Co-op is now supporting the development of the Bright Future programme with other businesses and charities across the UK

Dave Smith
Corporate PR Manager Communications
Tel:0161 692 4285