Public sector procurement: IASC letters to permanent secretaries on goods subject to US Import bans 


On 22 November 2021, Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Dame Sara Thornton wrote to 16 permanent secretaries of major government departments. She asked for reassurance that adequate measures were being taken to stop goods made with forced labour, and subject to US import bans, from entering departmental supply chains.


Dame Sara received responses from all 16 permanent secretaries and has published a paper today on the responses. 


Read the paper here.


Dame Sara Thornton, Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, commented:

“With the appointment of anti-slavery advocates in government departments, the writing of modern slavery statements and continued engagement with suppliers, central government departments are taking encouraging steps to improve scrutiny and minimise risk in their supply chains over the longer term. This is setting a good example, not only to their supply chains, but also the wider public sector.

“Leadership and guidance from the Home Office has been apparent in the replies and I look forward to seeing how this is developed in coming months. I would expect to see consideration of these issues in the next departmental statements in 2022.

“I welcome the proposed regulations in the Health and Care Bill to strengthen due diligence protocols in NHS supply chains and would encourage this principle to be extended to all other areas of high risk public sector procurement.”






Notes to editors

  • Part 4 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 created the role of the Independent Anti-Slavery CommissionerThe Commissioner has a UK-wide remit to encourage good practice in the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of slavery and human trafficking offences and the identification of victims.
  • The Commissioner is given an annual budget with which to appoint staff and carry out her duties. She is accountable through her strategic plan and annual reports, which the Secretary of State lays before Parliament, setting out the extent to which objectives and priorities are achieved. Her Strategic Plan 2019 – 2021 was launched in October 2019 and her Annual Report 2020 – 2021 was launched in July 2021.
  • Dame Sara Thornton was appointed as the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner by the Secretary of State following consultation with the Scottish Ministers and the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland. She took up post at the beginning of May 2019 and her appointment is for three years.

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