Why spotting the signs of modern slavery training will be given Calderdale councillors

Councillor Jenny Lynn (Lab, Town) left
Councillor Jenny Lynn (Lab, Town) left

Councillors in Calderdale will be provided with training to help them spot signs of Modern Day Slavery in the borough.

Calderdale Council is preparing a Modern Slavery and Anti-Trafficking policy and last month the authority’s Place Scrutiny Board heard from experts that human trafficking is happening in Calderdale and it was often a crime hiding in plain sight.

Nail bars and car washes were types of businesses which were particularly of concern, councillors had heard.

Supporting the request to Cabinet for member training and intensification of communicating issues about Modern Day Slavery, Coun Jenny Lynn (Lab, Town), said the board also sat as the

Crime and Disorder Partnership, hearing from police and experts in the subject.

“It’s a reminder that modern day slavery is a recruitment movement harbouring or receiving of children, young people and adults through the use of force, coercion and abuse of their vulnerability.

That day reports nationally had told of prosecutions in Rochdale and Burnley relating to modern day slavery, she said.

“Although we might think it is something of a rare offence it is something that we all need to raise our awareness of.

“Typically, the search for signs that people are encouraged to look out for are lack of self-esteem, people at existing risk of abuse, people living in overcrowded accommodation, acting as if they are being told what to do by somebody else, lacking suitable clothing for their jobs, being picked up by vehicles at unusual hours, injured or in need of medical care, fearful and poorly integrated into the local community,” said Coun Lynn.

Using its own transparency supply charter the council also needed to keep an eye on organisations from which the council procured services, for example doing things like challenging abnormally low tenders.

Cabinet agreed to support the scrutiny board’s requests.

Cabinet member for Communities and Neighbourhood Services, Coun Susan Press (Lab, Todmorden) said Cabinet recognised modern day slavery needed to be better understood and awareness of it higher.

The council should do all it could to protect those who were being exploited and tracking down those at risk, she said.

Coun Megan Swift (Lab, Town), Cabinet member for Children and Young People’s Services, asked if training would be external and with an eye on cost could it be done in conjunction with neighbours Bradford and Kirklees councils.

Cabinet chair and Leader of the Council Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) said that could be looked at and said West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson considered the issue to be very important and had held seminars on it in the past.

Coun Swift also said in terms of awareness he had learned tnhere was a church organisation which had a “safe car wash” app for your phone which gave you indications of what to look for and how to report concerns to the relevant national helpline.

At the March scrutiny board members heard tackling modern slavery was intelligence-led and using a multi-agency approach with which the council would work with organisations ranging from the Border Agency to the police.

The briefing paper to the board said Modern Day Slavery is almost certainly under-reported in Calderdale, taking into account national figures, population changes and business types emerging.

In the last quarter of 2018 – between October and December – the council made two reports to the National Referral Mechanism, both cases involving minors.