Councils in the UK mark Anti-Slavery Day

International Slavery Museum - at the Royal Albert Dock, Liverpool

Councils across the UK are marking Anti-Slavery Day 2020 today, while museums such as the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool are directing visitors online to their galleries telling the story of slavery in the past.

East Sussex County Council leaders for example have signed a pledge to show their commitment to becoming a Slavery Free Community by 2030.

The Modern Slavery Pledge signed by Council Leader Councillor Keith Glazer, the lead member for Communities and Safety Councillor Bill Bentley and Chief Executive Becky Shaw, underlines the council's commitment to Sussex-wide plans to end modern slavery and human trafficking.

In signing the pledge East Sussex County Council - part of the Sussex Anti-Slavery Network - says it is committed to raising awareness amongst staff and associates, sharing intelligence, supporting victims and survivors, removing slave-based labour from supply chains and contributing to building a slave free economy.

In the last twelve months to September 25, Sussex Police recorded 86 crimes relevant to the Modern Slavery Act which were linked to East Sussex. Councillor Bill Bentley said:

'This is a hidden issue in both our towns and rural communities right across the county. These cases are only the tip of the iceberg with potentially many more that are not reported'.

The Anti-Slavery Day Act 2010 was introduced by UK Parliament to create a national day to raise awareness of the need to eradicate all forms of slavery, human trafficking and exploitation. In 1949, the United Nations created an International Day for the Abolition of Slavery to be commemorated on 2 December each year. According to the UN an estimated 40.3 million people are in modern slavery, including 24.9 million in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriage. One in four victims of modern slavery are children.

One of the aims of the set days marking anti-slavery is to remind people that slavery is not merely a historic relic. However, in recent times there has been debate around the monuments and statues that are in place in our UK cities with links to the transatlantic slave trade.

Future Cities Forum touched on this issue in our heritage and master planning debate this week with Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Should funds continue to support heritage with slavery links? Ros talked about the importance of continuing to open up the engagement on the issue:

'We have for a very long time been ensuring we engage the full community in heritage. We are funded by national lottery players and they come from all sectors of the community. We do have a wide and incredible history and some of it is less good judging it by today's standards. I do think that Historic England as well is working really hard on this to tell a fuller story.'

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