Two councillors are asking colleagues to commit to making Brighton and Hove free of modern slavery.
Labour councillors Carmen Appich and Jackie O’Quinn said: “There are more slaves worldwide today than at the height of the Atlantic slave trade in the 18th century.
“That includes over 13,000 modern slaves in the UK today – and the number is growing.
“Modern slavery is a hidden crime and it is closer than we think.
“It is happening in every corner of the country – and that includes here.”
The most recent figures from Sussex Police said that there were 21 cases of modern slavery in Brighton and Hove in 2018-19.
Eighteen cases involved someone holding another person in slavery or servitude, two involved forced labour and one involved arranging travel with a “view to exploitation”.
Brighton and Hove’s comparatively high level of homelessness and rough sleeping can make people vulnerable to situations where they end up exploited, a council report said.
It listed other similar examples such as cuckooing, where vulnerable people’s homes are taken over and used by others for criminal activity.
And it mentioned “county lines” drug dealing which had led to young people being exploited.
Across Sussex, police said, there were 54 cases of modern slavery in the same year.
More than half of those being exploited were British, they said, with Albanians and Vietnamese people the next most commonly exploited.
The motion due to be proposed by the two councillors calls on the council to
- show strong leadership in tackling modern slavery
- train staff to recognise and respond to signs of slavery
- share intelligence and information to detect slavery
- support victims and survivors
- end slave-based labour in supply chains
- help build a slave-free economy
The motion was said to build on the council’s commitment two years ago to sign up to the Charter Against Modern Slavery.
The idea to sign up to the charter was put forward by former Labour councillors Julie Cattell and Emma Daniel.
The “virtual” meeting of the full council meeting is due to start at 4.30pm next Thursday (23 July). It is scheduled to be webcast on the council’s website.
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