Measures to help detect and prevent modern slavery have been approved by Chesterfield borough councillors.
Councillor Amanda Serjeant, deputy leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, said: “Modern slavery is a hidden problem across the country and Chesterfield is not immune to that.
“Incidents of modern slavery do happen in our borough and it is important that we do our part to help detect it where it is happening and also help prevent it.
“We have hundreds of staff from a wide range of services including housing, planning, licensing and environmental health who are visiting homes and businesses in Chesterfield each week.
“They are all able to look out for signs that people are being coerced into doing something they don’t want to.”
The council has committed to a range of actions listed in an annual Modern Slavery Statement and has also joined around 40 local authorities in signing up to the Co-operative Party Charter Against Modern Slavery.
These actions include:
- Ensuring all staff receive training on safeguarding to spot and report signs of modern slavery, with those who visit business premises receiving a higher level of training to know how to handle any issues they identify
- Ensuring all new suppliers of goods or services confirm that they are complying with the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act, where the law applies to them
- Ensuring all contractors and sub-contractors have relevant safeguarding policies, procedures and training in place
- Ensuring all staff appointed by the council have undergone checks to confirm they are legally entitled to work in the UK
- Having a whistleblowing policy so staff can report suspicions about someone suffering modern slavery who they come in to contact with through their work
Councillor Serjeant added: “We have already used our powers to assist the police in identifying and taking action on incidents of modern slavery in Chesterfield.
“The problem is not just confined to immigrants. Many of the people who suffer modern slavery in Britain today are from white British backgrounds. But these issues are really hard to find until you scratch beneath the surface because these people are generally not being restrained physically.
“Often emotional or financial pressure is being used to force them to do things and, as a result, even when people in authority try to help they refuse that assistance.”
The council will report annually on the progress it has made to meet the targets it has set.
You can report suspicions about modern slavery online at www.modernslavery.org or by ringing 0800 0121 700.