SKDC makes modern slavery pledge
South Kesteven District Council said it is continuing to work with partners, including contractors and police, to help stamp out the scourge of modern slavery.
A presentation was made to the council's communities and wellbeing overview and scrutiny committee by detective chief superintendent Chris Davison, of Lincolnshire Police, and the council’s community engagement and policy development officer Carol Drury.
They outlined instances of modern slavery in the county, including Operation Pottery, where vulnerable people were held captive working for a controlling family in various locations, one victim for over 20 years. The resulting prosecution saw jail sentences of up to 15 years for 11 defendants.
Supporting a motion made in September, cabinet member for communities, wellbeing and skills Councillor Jacky Smith said: “This has been an eye-opener. What we’ve seen and heard today certainly makes you sit up and think. Wherever we are and whatever we are doing, if ever we see or suspect something then we should take note. Better one false report than more wrecked or neglected lives. People should also take the message home to family and friends. If you see something that doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t right.”
SKDC chief executive Aidan Rave said: “We can’t avoid being shocked by what we have heard today. A safe community is not just the responsibility of the police. If our officers see signs and are alert to modern slavery, there is more chance of being able to do something about it. The council is more than just the jobs we do, it is also about shaping the community. We will communicate this message to staff, not just about modern slavery but about the many things we do to make our community safer.”
Det Ch Supt Chris Davison also welcomed the pledge. “I am heartened by the amount of energy, enthusiasm and willingness to work together,” he said.
SKDC's motion, supported by the scrutiny committee, states: “In the spirit of working to do everything within its power to eradicate this and recognising recent changes in the way projects and services may be delivered, the Council resolves to work with contractors, police, and HM Revenue and Customs to deal with instances of modern slavery and to build on its existing Public Statement. The Council further undertakes to request the Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee review the council’s existing commitments, including those set out in the Equality and Diversity Annual Position Statement 2017 and propose any further recommendations as appropriate.”