As the Government announced new tougher measures extending  the obligations of s.54 Modern Slavery Act 2015 beyond the private sector, Councils are encouraged to rely on pre-existing guidance on modern slavery due diligence and reporting compliance.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has long supported Councils in responding to the issues of modern slavery and human trafficking. The ‘Tackling modern slavery, A council guide’ is a starting point for Council engagement in identifying, preventing and mitigating modern slavery in their supply chains.  

The Guidance describes the basic steps Councils can take in order to engage in modern slavery due diligence. Firstly, given that many public bodies have well defined values, Councils can consider responsible procurement in context of their purchasing decisions. This formulates their organisational commitment, which can be supported by awareness training for staff.  

Secondly, Councils ought to engage with their supplier and collaborate with others. Supplier engagement ensures suppliers are aware of Council’s strategy which in turn allows them to work collaboratively in achieving said strategy. Whilst, inter-Council collaboration is a ‘collective learning experience’, increasing likelihood of positive outcomes, which may save resources.

Thirdly, it is important that Councils understand their supply chain risk and identify high risk areas, whether industries or countries of procurement, via supply chain mapping. Fourthly, and lastly, Council’s need to consider their response to any potential human rights abuses that may be identified in their supply chains.

Southwell and Partners provides expert legal advice in relation to modern slavery and human trafficking law, including specialist advice on business and human rights such as implementing compliance procedures and drafting modern slavery statement. Our team has provided training on modern slavery to local authorities . If you would like any further information regarding our services please do not hesitate to contact us.

For the full LGA ‘Tackling modern slavery, A council guide’, read here.