Fashion Industry Unites To Tackle Slavery And Trafficking In Supply Chains

Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability Minister Victoria Atkins has urged businesses and governments to come together to tackle the “global and complex” scourge of modern slavery and human trafficking

Home Office

Home Office

Ahead of Paris Fashion Week, the minister spoke at the Paris Supply Chains Conference today (Friday 22 February), where representatives from governments, the fashion industry, textiles and civil society came together to discuss measures businesses should take to eradicate modern slavery and trafficking in their supply chains.

The minister highlighted how UK’s world leading Modern Slavery Act has helped transform business culture. She praised brands for changing their purchasing practices to protect vulnerable workers and innovative start-ups which are increasing transparency in the sector.

While recognising the progress that many responsible businesses are making the minister called on the industry to step up their action and increase their vigilance to understand the risks and intervene where necessary.

Both the UK and France have introduced transparency legislation to tackle forced labour in global supply chains and the conference provided a valuable opportunity to share best practice in tackling this insidious crime. The minister welcomed the French government’s determination to stamp out modern slavery and called for continued collaboration to speed up eliminating this abhorrent crime.

In her speech Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability Minister Victoria Atkins said:

I am proud to say that the UK is a world-leader in tackling slavery. In 2015, we introduced the landmark Modern Slavery Act to tackle slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking.

As we meet in Paris, I am also proud to say that the French government stands alongside us in their determination to eliminate human trafficking and labour exploitation.

Since legislation was introduced on both sides of the channel we have seen progress made, however the scale of the challenge means that it can only be tackled by government, business and civil society working together.

In addition to the ground breaking Modern Slavery Act, the government has also:

  • launched the “Principles to Combat Human Trafficking in Global Supply Chains” with the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand at the UN General Assembly in September 2018
  • written to 17,000 businesses in the UK about their obligations to publish what they are doing to tackle modern slavery in their supply chains, with the Home Office planning to name non-compliant companies after the end of the financial year
  • pledged to publish its own transparency statement in 2019
  • launched the “Business Against Slavery Forum” to bring together CEOs of some of the world’s largest organisations to share best practice to tackle modern slavery

The minister also welcomed the appointment of Sara Thornton, who was today announced as the new Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

Secretary Pompeo’s Phone Call With Japanese Foreign Minister Kono

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The below is attributable to Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino: ‎

On February 21, Secretary Michael R. Pompeo spoke with Japanese Foreign Minister Kono to discuss next steps on D.P.R.K. engagement. Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Kono reaffirmed their shared commitment to the final, fully verified denuclearization of the D.P.R.K. and to maintaining our close coordination. Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Kono affirmed the strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance, and committed to strengthening trilateral cooperation with the Republic of Korea on our unified approach toward the D.P.R.K. and other shared challenges.

The Federated States Of Micronesia Endorses The Proliferation Security Initiative

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The United States welcomes the decision by the Federated States of Micronesia to endorse the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and looks forward to working with the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia as part of our broader cooperation to advance the nonproliferation goals of the PSI and its Statement of Interdiction Principles. The Federated States of Micronesia is the 107th state to become a PSI participant.

Launched in Krakow, Poland in 2003, PSI participants commit to undertake voluntary measures, consistent with their authorities and resources, to: interdict illicit transfers of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, and related materials; exchange relevant information; and strengthen legal authorities to conduct interdictions. They also conduct exercises, workshops, and other activities to improve their capacities to fulfill their PSI commitments. The addition of each new participating state strengthens the Initiative and helps ensure that PSI will remain a durable international effort in the years ahead.

The United States urges all responsible states to endorse and participate in the PSI. For more information on the Proliferation Security Initiative, please see the State Department’s website.

Company Conned Small Businesses To Sponsor Sham Drug Campaigns

Courts shut down a Stockport-based company that targeted small businesses to sponsor sham drug awareness campaigns for schools

Parliament Street

Parliament Street

Data (Northern) Limited was wound up in the public interest on 18 February 2019 in the High Court in Manchester by District Judge Obodai. The Official Receiver has been appointed as liquidator of the company.

Stockport-based Data Northern was incorporated in February 2010 and the company was concerned with producing drug awareness booklets for schools.

The colour booklets, ‘Are You on Drugs’, were 40 pages long and provided information around dealing with the effects of a variety of drugs and alcohol. However, the booklets were authored by the director of the company, Ashley Thorley, who had no formal training.

Complaints were received about the operation of the company, which resulted in confidential investigations conducted by the Insolvency Service, on behalf of the Secretary of State.

Following a successful application to have Data Northern placed into provisional liquidation in November 2018, the court while considering the petition heard that the company would target small businesses before persuading them to sponsor drug awareness ‘campaigns’ that were carried out in conjunction with schools.

The campaigns were supposed to see schools receive the drug awareness booklets as an additional resource and in return, the benefactors would receive a ‘certificate of sponsorship’.

The most common sponsorship rate offered was £179 but amounts varied from client to client, anywhere between £50 and in one case, all the way up £13,000.

However, the majority of schools contacted by investigators did not receive the booklets, while those that had been sent the materials felt they were of poor quality and did not use them.

Investigators were also able to demonstrate to the courts that Data Northern falsely implied to the sponsors that the company was running a charitable campaign in conjunction with schools and incorrectly claimed that sponsors had agreed to a rolling programme of sponsorship by issuing multiple invoices.

Approximately 80% of total sponsorship received by Data Northern was based on this type of bogus consent and between April 2015 and April 2018, Data Northern secured more than £880,000 from small businesses

Additionally, Data Northern employed aggressive and misleading debt collection techniques, such as falsely threatening court action or claiming that bailiffs had been instructed. The company also failed to keep adequate accounting records.

Scott Crighton, Chief Investigator for the Insolvency Service, said:

Data Northern targeted small businesses and exploited their generous and benevolent nature, misleading them into believing they were contributing towards a worthy charitable cause. This couldn’t have been further from the truth as our investigations showed that the company was only generating revenue for itself.

The strong actions of the court has prevented further loss to the business community and is a warning to other companies solicited in this way to exercise discretion before agreeing to purchase advertising space.

All public enquiries concerning the affairs of the company should be made to: The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit, 2 Floor, 3 Piccadilly Place, London Road, Manchester, M1 3BN or email: piu.north@insolvency.gsi.gov.uk.

New Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Announced

Sara Thornton to take up role to help combat modern slavery

Home Office

Home Office

Sara Thornton, a police officer with more than 30 years’ experience, will take up the role of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner to help spearhead the UK’s response to this devastating crime.

Ms Thornton, who is currently Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and formerly Chief Constable at Thames Valley Police until 2015, was selected for the important role by the Home Secretary Sajid Javid following a competitive recruitment process.

The role was created as part of the landmark Modern Slavery Act 2015 and has a UK-wide remit to give independent advice on modern slavery issues and how they should be tackled.

Ms Thornton will be expected to:

  • encourage good practice to drive an increase in the identification and protection of victims of modern slavery, and to ensure the provision of enhanced support for all victims and survivors in the UK
  • drive effective prevention of slavery and human trafficking offences
  • promote an improved law enforcement and criminal justice response to modern slavery across the UK
  • engage with the private sector and promote policies to ensure that supply chains are free of slavery
  • foster constructive and targeted international collaboration to combat modern slavery

Tackling Modern Slavery was made a key government priority by Prime Minister Theresa May when she was Home Secretary.

The role is designated for three years with Sara Thornton taking up the role from this May.

Sajid Javid, Home Secretary, said:

The fact that modern slavery still exists in the shadows of our communities is totally unacceptable. We are doing all we can to banish it from society and give victims our full support.

Sara has dedicated her career to protecting people in need and I look forward to the valuable insight and advice she will provide as the new Commissioner.

Ms Thornton said:

The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner was created to spearhead the UK’s fight against human trafficking and modern slavery and has a key role in preventing these vile crimes and supporting victims.

I am looking forward to bringing my long experience as a chief constable and in national policing to bear in this important role.

Good progress has been made in recent years and I am committed to build on that and do what I can to consign this crime to history.

Frank Field, who is leading an Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act with Maria Miller MP and Baroness Butler-Sloss, said:

I have met Sara Thornton to discuss our findings on the role of the Commissioner. I look forward to working with her.

Ms Thornton has worked in policing since 1986, when she joined the Metropolitan Police. During her 33 year career within policing she served as Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police from 2007 until 2015 and was appointed the first Chair of the NPCC in 2015. She has also received the Queen’s Police Medal and, in 2011, was awarded a CBE.

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