COUNCIL MOTION: Tackling Modern Slavery (speech)

Modern Slavery is one of the great evils of our time and be under no illusion, it’s happening right under our noses.

Some think of slavery as an injustice from long ago. But the reality is, there are more people in conditions of slavery today than ever before. Estimates suggest that 40 million people worldwide are victims of modern slavery –  and here in the U.K., in nail bars, car washes, construction sites, factories, restaurants & take aways, the official figure for modern slavery stands at 13,000 in the Britain, however Kevin Hyland, the UKs independent anti-slavery commissioner, said this figure was probably far lower than the true picture which probably runs in to the tens of thousands, other estimates from 2016 estimated it could be as high as 136,000. Whatever figure you use the number means there is likely to be victims in almost every major town and city across the U.K. including here, in Lewisham.

But what is modern slavery, well the term captures a whole range of types of exploitation, many of which occur together. These include but are not limited to: Sexual exploitation; Debt bondage; Domestic servitude; Forced labour; Criminal exploitation. Other forms of exploitation include: forced ‘begging, benefit fraud and marriage’, illegal adoption, and in extremis organ removal.

Modern slavery is a cold, calculated and abusive business model, where costs are cut by depriving liberty, often with victims beaten, abused and humiliated to boot.. In short, Modern Slavery is where traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment.

Modern Slavery can affect adults and children, and last year 51% of victims were female and 49% male. 15% of victims were referred for domestic servitude; and there are now more victims exploited for labour than those who had been trafficked for sex.

It affects foreign nationals, but many of those exploited are from the UK and exploited within this country. In 2016 the third largest victim group were British.

Tonight Council, this motion sets out our expectations that we ensure that there’s nowhere to hide for modern slavery in our council’s supply chain, through both direct and indirect purchasing. 

The Co-operative Party’s Charter Against Modern slavery, which this motion urges Mayor & Cabinet to adopt, goes further than existing law and guidance, committing councils to proactively vetting their own supply chain to ensure no instances of modern slavery are taking place.

Collectively, local authorities in England spend more than £40bn per year procuring goods and services on our behalf.

From ‘cleaning to construction’ to ‘caring to catering’ and everything between and beyond, councils do business with literally thousands of different suppliers–both big and small every day. Many of those firms in turn have contractors and suppliers of their own too. Through harnessing that spending power, setting out our redlines as a local authority and guarding against supplier abuse, we can systematically seek to remove those who can’t assure us they are ‘slavery free’ from doing business with us.

The Charter is a series of simple and low-cost actions that councils can take to ensure their supply chains are not contributing to modern slavery. Awareness is very important, in recognising and acting on the signs of slavery, that is why training of officers is key as well as informing suppliers of their obligations. Key rights for workers such as freedom to join a trade union and whistleblowing help ensure an environment where modern slavery can’t thrive.

By joining the growing number of local authorities such as those in London including Brent, Barking & Dagenham, Islington, Hackney, Lambeth, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, and Waltham Forest who have signed up to this charter we’ll be both systematically and cooperatively working to eradicate Modern Slavery both in Lewisham & Beyond, for good. 

But for this to be effective, we must not just pay this motion lip service…

We must ensure in every corner of the council, in every penny we spend, From town centre regenerations to pencils, that we work to drive out modern slavery and ensure not a single Lewisham Pound ends up in the pocket of a trafficker. 

Chair, I move.


Lewisham’s Crime Survey

YOU can help make #Lewisham safer 

The Safer Lewisham Partnership wants to hear the views and experiences of crime and anti-social behaviour from communities right across Lewisham. The results of the Lewisham Crime Survey will be used by the partnership, which includes Lewisham Council, the police, probation and fire services, health, and voluntary groups, to help in setting its annual priorities and strategic action plan. 

Fighting racism, xenophobia and bigotry: that’s a “Peace of Cake”…

All faiths mosaic built by Lewishams Community

All faiths mosaic built by Lewishams Community

This morning I had the pleasure of sharing a good old cuppa and a piece of cake at a pan-community peace event in Catford. 

Like most brilliant ideas the concept is simple – get our communities together to bust myths and stereotypes, and build a proper community, all through the medium of shared experiences and cake!

PEACE OF CAKE EVENT – Goldsmiths Community Centre

As a born’n’bred Lewisham lad, I’ve grown up in and around diversity my whole life – I believe I’ve become a richer person from it, and I know Lewisham has too. From those vital migrant workers that keep our NHS and Lewisham Hospital going, to the work of our faith communities: Masjids and Synagogues; Churches and Meeting Houses, that have provided our young with youth groups to play in, community actions to improve our ‘health and wellbeing’, and worked tirelessly to build a united and tolerant community for us to live in. We are also blessed with scores of excellent community groups that ensure those of us either: smaller in number; or less likely to have a say, have an equal voice at the table – Lewisham’s Disability Coalition, Lewisham’s LGBT+ group, Association for Refugees in Lewisham (AfRIL), and Lewisham’s Pensioners Forum, to name but a few from a near endless list.

For those of you that know me in the slightest, you’ll know I’ve always had a strong sense of justice, and fighting inequality is something I’ve been passionate about for most of my life. I’ve never liked bullies, I certainly am not going to allow them to divide our community. The best way for us to beat these ‘bullies’ is to stand united, and don’t let complacency aide them – we are the majority.

Get involved:

Adversity brings the best out in our community time and time again and there’s loads of ways that you can show your support of a multicultural diverse community:

Talk about it: let people know that we’re better for it, the strange irony of the rise in intolerance is that’s it’s coming from those communities where diversity is often lacking. Communities like Lewisham’s that have been multicultural for decades, seen a high libel of migrants join our communities aren’t so much bothered by it, because we’ve been exposed, our presumptions confounded and crucially we’ve all lived and benefitted from it. From the fun and spectacle of things like Nottinghill Carnival to the everyday: our children being best friends, our colleagues at work coming from diverse 

Sign the Pledge: I’m proud to have got Lewisham Council to talk and do something around the rise of racism, xenophobia and bigotry, you can add your voice too. Click here to sign the pledge.

Get involved: with Hope not Hate’s More in Common campaign in Lewisham. The country was rocked and saddened by the assassination of Jo Cox MP, no more so than her Labour Party colleagues, but out of adversity comes hope, and as part of Jo’s Legacy Hope not Hate are delivering a local task forces to deliver community action activities. You can get involved in Lewisham’s here.

Host a ‘Peace of Cake’ event of your own!

The “Peace of Cake” team are keen for more community coffee mornings to be organised, so much so they’ll be producing a “How to” guide shortly on how to get a good community conversation going. To find out more visit here.

No trick or treat poster

Happy Hallowe’en from Lewisham Police but remember…

Original article here

At the start of what is traditionally one of the busiest periods of the year for incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour, Lewisham Borough Police along with Lewisham Council and the London Fire Brigade will be working to make sure Halloween and Bonfire Night are enjoyed responsibly and safely.

Operation Autumn Nights will see an increased visible policing presence around the borough to deter anti-social behaviour, disorder and crime. Lewisham Council staff are also busy identifying potential fire hazards so that they are removed immediately. The London Fire Brigade will be patrolling areas where there have been instances of street arson, e.g. people setting fire to bins, or dumped mattresses.

Lewisham Council will also be checking that shops are not selling fireworks illegally to minors, and also to ensure that the fireworks being sold meet safety standards.

Lewisham Police along with Lewisham Council are asking those that do decide to go trick or treating to respect the wishes of householders and to think about which doors they knock on, and not to knock where they see a ‘No Trick or Treat’ poster on display.

Householders can download the a ‘No Trick or Treat’ poster from this page

Sorry No Trick or Treat poster for display (232 KB)

Continue reading

Partnerships against crime

Lewisham Council’s Multi-Agency Operation on Catford Broadway

Following concerns I have raised on behalf of local residence about the The Broadway in Catford I’m pleased to announce Council Officers organised a targeted multi-agency operation to clean up the main market street in our Ward, this work formed part of a day of action across the borough.

Officers from the Police, UK Border Agency, Council Crime Reduction Service, Environmental Enforcement, Food Safety, Trading Standards and Parking, visited the Broadway from 9:30am to undertake visits to premises and deal with any ‘on the street issues’ as they were identified. There was a very strong visible presence on the Broadway which was recognised by the local businesses and visitors to the area.

Continue reading

Why #ISPFiltering is the wrong approach

parental control visual

My comment on ‪#‎ISPFiltering‬ – “Pointless” at the age of 10 I set up our internet service provision with our provider. I installed all the software – I set up all the hardware, my mother just looked blankly on.

Joining the 10,000 Hands Campaign @10000hands – an inspirational campaign

James-J Walsh caught red handed supporting the 10,000 hands campaign

James-J Walsh caught red handed supporting the 10,000 hands campaign

Earlier this week I was lucky enough to catch up with the 10,000 campaigns – an innovative campaign led by young people to make Lewisham a safer place for all its residents. Camilla, 19 (pictured center left) has been working on projects making Lewisham a better place for teenagers since Year 7 and is a truly inspirational young woman. The project now hopes to collect enough hand prints to wrap City Hall in.

More about the group can be found by visiting their website here

Continue reading

Say #No2BNPinLewisham – This Saturday

It was always inevitable that the BNP would try to build support on the back of the Woolwich killing. However, rather than demonstrating in Woolwich on Saturday as it was first thought (and a UAF anti-racist festival/demo will be going ahead at 12 noon in General Gordon Square, Woolwich), the BNP have now announced that they now plan to march (or take cars) away from Woolwich and converge on the Lewisham Islamic Centre (which is close to Lewisham Hospital) instead.

We have a responsibility to stand shoulder to shoulder with our neighbours our friends and our citizens to say we will not tolerate racism we will not tolerate islamophobia

If you’d like to counter protest with me please let me know ASAP



Lewisham Police @MPSLewisham want to reassure residents about “kidnappings” in the borough.

The Metropolitan Police Service – Lewisham have issued a press release about the recent ‘kidnappings’ that have occured in Lewisham to reassure local residents. Their release is below.

Continue reading

Mum tries to allegedly sell kids via Facebook for £670. #WickedWoman

A young mum has been accused of trying to sell her children on Facebook to bail her boyfriend out of jail. Reports Sky News

Police in Sallisaw, Oklahoma said Misty VanHorn contacted a potential buyer via the social networking site.

They said the 22-year-old mother was looking to get $1,000 (£670) for her two-year-old, or $4,000 (£2,680) for the toddler and her 10-month-old baby.
Continue reading