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Working with Norfolk businesses to tackle Modern Slavery

A banner promoting partnership working to tackle Modern Slavery stood proudly at an event organised by Business in the Community (BiTC), sponsored by Aviva. Speakers included BiTC CEO and former MP Mary MacLeod, Anglia Water CEO Peter Simpson and Andrew Dernie representing Aviva. The event was focused on the mutual benefits of partnership working and the cost-of-living crisis. Businesses and charities present were able to share experiences and ideas for future collaboration to strengthen Norfolk communities.

Many people think that Modern Slavery is something that happens elsewhere, but recent figures from Norfolk Constabulary show that it is not so far from home (see table below). In fact, it is on our doorstep and something we can all tackle to protect our businesses from Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking.

Table 1:

  • 269 victims of Modern Slavery were identified in Norfolk between July 2022 to June 2023.
  • The most common form of Modern Slavery found in Norfolk was labour exploitation, where 96% of victims identified were male.
  • Half of the victims in forced criminality in Norfolk were young people with one of the most common nationalities being British.

Large businesses have a mandatory obligation to show accountability for assessing their operations and supply chain for evidence of Modern Slavery and labour exploitation under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 Section 54, with new measures to monitor and penalties for non-compliance being introduced by UK Parliament soon. 

At present, these only include businesses with a turnover of more than £36 million. However, developments globally (the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive notwithstanding) indicate that the net for who needs to demonstrate due diligence for human rights is to widen, meaning Norfolk businesses that wish to grow and trade freely will need to prepare themselves. In addition to mandatory requirements, evidence shows the benefits of going beyond technical compliance, demonstrated by industry leaders such as Marks and Spencer and the negative impacts on wealth from where Modern Slavery is discovered within an organisation.

The Norfolk Anti-Slavery Network (NASN) business sub-group offers an opportunity to work together to increase operational resilience and supply chain protection to the very real and ever-present risk of Modern Slavery. Businesses can keep their fingers on the pulse of current trends and developments, working with statutory and non-statutory agencies to find proactive solutions. This is an initiative echoed by UN guidance calling for partnership formation among business, civil society, government, NGOs, foundations, academia and others.

To support our business community and the Norfolk community at large, the NASN business sub-group plans to recruit more businesses, representing all sectors, offering up to date training and links to practical business solutions, creating a stable and unbeatable platform on which commerce can thrive safely and successfully. So watch this space for opportunities available and attendance at local business networking events near you.

The NASN business sub-group chair, Gary Dack, Head of Safeguarding for Norwich City Football Club states:

“Modern Slavery can affect any business and it is important that our sector remains vigilant to the risks. NASN provides an excellent forum for private business to work in partnership with statutory agencies and ensure they understand local threats. By joining NASN as a business partner, you will benefit from access to mentoring services and resources which will help reduce organisational threat from slavery. This will ensure your business achieves mandatory compliance. Follow the lead of Norwich City and get involved.”

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Further reading:

The Partnering Initiative (TIP). Available from:

UK Parliament Briefings (15th March 2023). Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery Debate Pack 161431 Fleur Anderson and Robert Jenrick. Available from: (2015). Modern Slavery Act 2015 Part 6 Section 54. Available from:

European Parliament. (May 222). Commission Proposal on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence: Analysis from a Human Rights Perspective. Available from:

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development. (2010). Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Available from:

United Nations and The Partnering Initiative. (2022). THE SDG PARTNERSHIP GUIDEBOOK A practical guide to building high impact multi-stakeholder partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals. Available from: