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Project to combat modern slavery launches in Greater Manchester

With research showing that modern slavery risk in supply chains has worsened during the pandemic, Greater Manchester has launched a new initiative to tackle the issue within the city region.

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Concerns over modern slavery have been in the spotlight during 2021 through crises such as the alleged human rights abuses of Uyghur people in the Xinjiang region of China, which plays an important role in the global textiles supply chain.

More recent research suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have increased the risk of forced labour in supply chains, with one report from Dow Jones concluding that the disruption had created “the perfect breeding ground” for the issue to thrive in a number of sectors.

Andrew Wallis, CEO of modern slavery charity Unseen UK, has warned that criminals have exploited the pandemic to “maximise their income opportunities” and pivot into new sectors and supply chains. Unfortunately, new research carried out by the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre has found that modern slavery is still considered a relatively low priority by UK companies.

In Greater Manchester, a new project has now been launched to help local authorities tackle the problem. Led by the University of Manchester and tech company Trilateral Research, Project Honeycomb aims to develop relationships across the private, public and civil society sectors to gather data and information related to modern slavery, human trafficking and exploitation.

The project will collate and analyse data to create a more informed picture of modern slavery in the city region and feed into the strategy of Programme Challenger, Greater Manchester’s multi-agency anti-slavery partnership.

Bev Hughes, Greater Manchester’s Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire, said:

“Modern slavery and human trafficking is happening now across Greater Manchester – to prevent and tackle this scourge, we need to be able to understand how it happens. We know that not every victim or survivor will want to report their experience to the police, but there might be organisations, businesses and service providers who have important pieces of information that can help protect those people who are trapped.

“This is why we are investing in this partnership, so that we can better understand the problem, enabling us to work together to prevent modern slavery from happening, safeguard victims and bring more perpetrators to justice.”

How to identify modern slavery risks in your supply chain

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