Jane Hutt, Minister for Social Justice
Modern slavery is a crime which causes incalculable harm and whose victims live in communities across Wales. Wales continues to fight this horrendous crime and support its survivors.
On Anti-Slavery Day (18 October), the Welsh Government stood in solidarity with people and organisations across Wales. Our Cathays Park building was lit red to show Wales continues to stand against all forms of slavery, and we supported a webinar organised by BAWSO. This included compelling and moving testimony from two modern slavery survivors. We are proud to support such events, recognising the vital impact they have in raising awareness of modern slavery and its effect on people.
To coincide with Anti-Slavery Day, the UK’s national standards body - BSI - launched a new British standard on modern slavery. My officials have already had initial discussions with BSI, and we will continue to engage with BSI on how we can promote and raise awareness of this standard amongst our networks in Wales.
Whilst modern slavery is a reserved matter, we have been consistent in the Welsh Government in using our levers and influence to work collaboratively and constructively with a range of partners so that we raise awareness of the risks and signs of modern slavery, tackle modern slavery wherever it exists, and provide support to survivors.
This work includes co-ordinating regular meetings of the Wales Anti-Slavery Leadership Group, which brings together multi-agency partners to provide leadership and coordination. We also continue to promote our Code of Practice on Ethical Employment in Supply Chains, which supports organisations in eradicating modern slavery and labour exploitation from their supply chains. To date, more than 470 organisations are signatories to the Code.
We also seek to work constructively with the UK Government on the modern slavery agenda. However, we are concerned the recent political turmoil in Westminster is leading to delay in developing the new modern slavery strategy for England and Wales and in appointing a new Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner following the departure of the previous incumbent in April. We continue to press the UK Government on these matters and advocate for a victim and survivor-focused approach to modern slavery, in which safeguarding concerns are of primary focus.