In February, police raids in Milton Keynes and Bedford saw 15 arrests linked to modern slavery. On July 18, Milton Keynes Council agreed unanimously to sign the Co-operative Party charter against modern slavery.
The Council leader will now formally sign the charter. The Council will require its partners, contractors and other providers to adopt measures to ensure they are not inadvertently using modern slaves.
Cllr Martin Gowans, the Cabinet member leading on the issue said, “It’s good that the whole Council agreed to sign the Charter. We cannot allow such evil to exist in a modern city like Milton Keynes.”
Modern Slavery is broad in nature. Exploitation, includes, but is not limited to, sexual exploitation; domestic servitude; forced labour; organ removal; forced begging; forced benefit fraud; and forced marriage and illegal adoption, affecting men and women, adults and children, those born in the UK, and those not;
Cllr Gowans added, “Recent police operations have focused on forced labour. But the challenge of modern slavery is much wider and as a Council we will work to end modern slavery in whatever form it takes.
The Co-operative Party’s roots go back to 1844, when the ‘Rochdale Pioneers’ founded the first modern co-operative, based on principles still in use today.
That first store grew into a movement with millions of members. During World War I, co-ops faced discrimination from a government dominated by private business. In 1917, the movement set up the Co-operative Party to represent and defend itself, and to promote their values in the wider economy and society.
Since 1927, the Party has had an electoral agreement with Labour Party. This enables them to stand joint candidates in elections, recognising shared values and maximising impact.