Modern slavery, which includes human trafficking, is the illegal exploitation of people for personal or commercial gain. It can take various forms, including:
- Domestic exploitation
- Human Trafficking
- Labour exploitation/Forced Labour
- Debt bondage/Bonded Labour
- Descent Based Slavery
- Slavery of Children
- Sexual exploitation
- Criminal exploitation
Modern slavery is often a hidden crime involving one person denying another person their freedom. It includes slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking. To tackle these crimes, the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (the Act) was introduced. The Act consolidates and clarifies modern slavery offences, toughens penalties and prosecution, and introduces greater support and protection for victims. The concept of forced or compulsory labour is most relevant to this guidance. This is because it is the form of modern slavery which suppliers are most likely to come across (Reference ‘Tackling Modern Slavery in Government Supply Chains’ Government Commercial Function 2019).
The National Procurement Policy Statement (NPPS) sets out the strategic priorities for public procurement and how contracting authorities can support their delivery and was published in June 2021. The NPPS requires contracting authorities to take measures to identify and mitigate modern slavery risks in their contracts and to work in partnership with suppliers to improve labour standards in their operations and supply chains, and to be transparent about the steps they have taken.
Local government has the opportunity to use its extensive buying power to help mitigate the risks of modern slavery occurring in its supply chain by adopting new processes and procedures, in both procurement and supplier management. The first step towards adopting this approach in Somerset is this Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement (the Statement) which outlines Somerset Council’s commitment to being an ethically, environmentally and socially responsible organisation.
Signs or general indicators of Modern-Day Slavery
Appearance - Signs of physical or psychological abuse, malnourished, unkempt, appearing agitated or withdrawn, neglected.
Lack of Freedom - Rarely allowed to go out or travel on their own, appear to be under the control or influence of someone else, rarely interact or appear unfamiliar with their neighbourhood or where they work.
Debt Bondage - Relationships appear odd, such as a teenager appearing to be the girlfriend/boyfriend of a much older adult. Or in debt or dependant on someone else.
Accommodation - Living in dirty cramped accommodation and or living and working at the same address. Overcrowded and windows that are constantly blacked out or curtains always closed.
Work – Have no identification documents, or few personal belongings and always wearing the same clothes, which may be unsuitable for the work they are doing. Being dropped off and picked up for work in the same places on a regular basis late at night or early in the morning
Lack of Control – Little opportunity to move freely and may have their travel documents restrained, such as passports.
Hidden Signs - Children being picked up and dropped off by Taxis at inappropriate times and in places where it is not clear why they are there.
Behaviour - Reluctance to seek help appear frightened and avoid eye contact. They may fear law enforcers for many reasons, such as not knowing who to trust. Or who to go to for help. Fear of deportation, or fear of violence towards them and their family.
For help or to report someone you think is a victim of modern-day slavery call 24 Hour modern slavery helpline on 0800121700 or visit the website Modern Day Slavery Helpline.
Somerset Council is fully committed to preventing slavery and human trafficking in its business activities and across its supply chains – and to being open and transparent about any specific instances of slavery identified.
Somerset is a county of around 550,000 people. We are responsible for the more strategic local services within Somerset, including many children’s services, education (schools, libraries and youth services), social services, highway maintenance, waste disposal, emergency planning, and town and country planning for matters to do with minerals, waste, highways and education.
We are an ambitious council, committed to improving lives for the residents, communities and businesses of Somerset.
Our Structure and supply chains
This statement covers the activities of the council. That includes direct employees of the council, agency workers engaged through the council’s managed service and services delivered on behalf of the council by third-party organisations and in the council’s supply chains.
Where the council requires external organisations to provide services on our behalf, contractors are required to sign Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) which require their compliance, and that of any sub-contractor, with all applicable statutory provisions.
The council undertakes public procurement in accordance with the Public Procurement (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020. In applicable tenders the Selection Questionnaire includes a requirement to declare and evidence compliance with the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
Set out below are the key relevant policies in place at Somerset Council. These policies are reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure they remain compliant and fit for purpose.
Somerset Council operates a Job Evaluation Scheme which ensures that all employees are paid fairly and equitably and is recognised by employers and trades unions.
The 1998 National Single Status agreement required the council to review its approach to job evaluation and grading based on the need to modernise, to reflect changing ways of working, cover a wider range of occupational groups and to ensure equal pay for work of equal value in our extremely diverse organisation.
The result is an agreement with the council’s recognised Trade Unions to use two schemes for the evaluation of all council employees on ‘Green Book’ conditions of service. Schools throughout Somerset are included in this scheme and grades and salaries resulting from this process apply to these staff, subject to the agreement of governing bodies.
Employee Standards of Conduct
The council’s employees are expected to behave in accordance with the high standards of behaviour set out in the Employees Standards of Conduct. All employees are expected to apply the council’s values to all aspects of their behaviour and conduct at work. All employees are expected to comply with the law relating to their work and general conduct.
The council has a Recruitment and Selection Policy and Procedure which sets out how recruitment is managed. Our processes are transparent and reviewed regularly.
All appointments will be subject to pre-employment checks. These include identity, the right to work in the UK, references from previous employers and medical fitness. Some jobs require additional checks; these may include Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), qualifications and professional registration.
Somerset Council is committed to the highest possible standards of openness, probity and accountability. In line with that commitment we wish to encourage employees, and other workers within the council, who have serious concerns about any aspect of the council’s work to come forward and voice those concerns.
Equality and Diversity Policies
Somerset Council is committed to being a workplace where all job applicants and all employees are treated as individuals with dignity and respect and where positive challenge to violation of human rights, harassment, victimisation, and discriminatory behaviour is part of daily working practice. The council encourages good communication between all employees in order to understand the underlying reasons for, and thereby avoid, potential conflicts.
Council policies and procedures provide all job applicants and all employees with equal opportunity without harassment, victimisation and direct or indirect discrimination, because of legally protected characteristics (either by association or perception).
The council will prevent detriment arising from disability and comply with its duty to make reasonable adjustments for the benefit of applicants and employees who have declared a disability.
Our Procurement Process
Somerset Council’s procurement activity is governed by and delivered within a significant and complex legislative framework. The Public Contract Regulations (PCRs) 2015 enact the 2014 EU Directive (2014/24/EU) into UK law and dictate how public procurement must be undertaken. Similarly, other examples of law impacting the way in which we procure our goods and services include, but are not limited to:
- Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012
- Competition Act 1998
- Freedom of Information Act 2000
- Equality Act 2010
The council’s competitive tender procedure includes a mandatory exclusion selection criteria regarding the Modern Slavery Act 2015. If a Supplier seriously misrepresents any factual information in filling in the Selection Questionnaire, and so induce an authority to enter into a contract, there may be significant consequences. The Supplier may be excluded from the procurement procedure, and from bidding for other contracts for three years. If a contract has been entered into the Supplier may be sued for damages and the contract may be rescinded. If fraud, or fraudulent intent, can be proved, the Supplier or their responsible officers may be prosecuted and convicted of the offence of fraud by false representation, and the Supplier(s) must be excluded from further procurements for five years.
We will give consideration to the procurement planning checklist in our procurement process (Reference ‘Tackling Modern Slavery in Government Supply Chains’ Government Commercial Function 2019) as attached in Appendix One.
Employees working within Children and Family Services and Adult Social Care undergo mandatory training which includes reference to Modern Slavery.
All staff also have access to Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking training as part of the Council’s range of training opportunities via The Learning Centre and efforts will be made for all managers to complete this over the next 12 months.
The Government Commercial Function (GCF) has worked with the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) to develop an ethics online learning suite and test. The CIPS e-learning includes over two hours of learning resources which help individuals gain a consistent understanding of the issues surrounding modern slavery and other ethical aspects of modern procurement (such as environmental sustainability and propriety in upholding the CIPS and the Civil Service Code). It is applicable to all levels of personnel working across the profession (both public and private sector). Successful completion of the test is also a mandatory element of gaining Chartered CIPS Status and the Commercial and Procurement team is currently in the process of all staff undertaking the training to obtain Ethics status for the council’s procurement service.
Risk Assessment and Management
The council is confident that as an organisation, appropriate measures are being undertaken to mitigate the risk of modern slavery and human trafficking through close monitoring of services.
Key performance indicators to measure effectiveness of steps taken
- The council requires its contractors to comply with the Modern Slavery Act 2015, wherever it applies. With contract termination as a potential sanction for non-compliance.
- As part of our Procurement approach, abnormally low tenders are challenged to ensure they do not rely upon the potential contractor practising modern slavery.
- Refer for investigation via the National Crime Agency’s national referral mechanism any of its contractors identified as a cause of concern regarding modern slavery
- Somerset Council uses only a specified and reputable employment agency for the recruitment of agency workers. All new employees are thoroughly and properly vetted for their eligibility to work in the UK in accordance with appropriate legislation.
All Contract Managers will be expected to carry out due diligence procedures to minimise the risks of modern slavery taking place within our supply chains. For example through:
- Referrals, site visits and spot checks
- Asking for suppliers to provide their own due diligence of their sub-contractors and supply chains
- Use online modern slavery risk identification and management tool such as the government’s Modern Slavery Assessment Tool (MSAT) in particular for Tier 1 and Tier 2 contracts
Contract managers and commissioners will be expected to work collaboratively within their sectors and share good practice. Where appropriate they will be expected to:
- Work with suppliers to create action plans, take corrective measures, and if suppliers refuse to cooperate, consider measures against them
- Identify and report violations, and address how you will mitigate them
- Provide details of your collaboration with external partners, including the measures taken
Consideration is being given to establishing a Modern Slavery working group internally in the coming months which relevant services are involved to oversee our corporate approach to implementing this Statement and to address instances where you have identified risks or actual abuse. The group will also be requested to review this Statement annually and continuously seek to innovate and improve on these processes over time. In addition, the group will have oversight of Modern Slavery training, who should undertake it and ensuring this takes place.
Contract managers and commissioners will be expected to assess risks in existing contracts, including:
- Determining whether existing contracts are at high, medium or low risk of modern slavery occurring
- Undertaking supply chain mapping and how far this should extend in the supply chain for relevant contracts
Taking action when victims of modern slavery are identified
When specific instances of modern slavery and human rights abuses have been uncovered in the supply chain, they must be addressed immediately and in a manner that is proportionate and adapted to the circumstances of the case.
As mentioned above, we will establish a Modern Slavery working group internally in which relevant services are involved, with a role to include addressing instances where you have identified risks or actual abuse.
A policy has been developed to ensure that staff understand their duties under the Modern Slavery Act to refer individuals they suspect may be victims. You can read the policy.
About this statement
This statement is made pursuant to section 54(1) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and constitutes Somerset Council’s modern slavery and human trafficking statement for the financial year ending 2022. This statement will be reviewed and updated accordingly on an annual basis.
This statement has been approved by:
Head of Commercial and Procurement
10 March 2022