Major fashion brands across the UK are collaborating with law enforcement bodies to remove modern slavery from the textiles industry
Retailers John Lewis, M&S, New Look, NEXT, River Island and Shop Direct are set to work together with the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA).
The announcement follows the latest meeting of the Modern Slavery Taskforce, created by Prime Minister Theresa May, which discussed how to better identify and tackle forced labour in business supply chains.
The UK’s multi-billion fashion industry employs thousands of people from around the world, which can make its companies vulnerable to unscrupulous providers and criminals who exploit workers for their labour.
Efforts to stamp out modern slavery is in response to slavery offences reaching an all-time high. It is reported that police forces in the UK are currently running more than 920 live investigations in September, involving over 2,000 victims.
The Prime Minister said: “Modern slavery is an abhorrent crime that denies its victims of liberty, and it is disturbing to think that some of the products we buy could have been produced by someone exploited into forced labour.
“As global leaders in the fight against modern slavery, I am clear that this will not be tolerated in the UK – and our consumers won’t stand for it either.
“I welcome the action being taken by businesses which are leading the way in being open and transparent about the modern slavery risks they face, and have pledged to raise awareness to prevent slavery, protect vulnerable workers and help bring more criminals to justice.
“But with Modern Slavery police operations at an all-time high, clearly there is more to do to stamp out this vile crime and prevent criminal groups from operating in the shadows of supply chains to exploit people for commercial gain.”
Businesses with a turnover of more than £36 million are already legally required to publish annual transparency statements, known as a Modern Slavery Statements, setting out what they are doing to stop modern slavery and forced labour practices occurring in their business and supply chains.
In line with Anti-Slavery Day last month, the Home Office wrote to 17,000 Chief Executives to remind them of their responsibilities, or face being publicly named.
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