By Jonathan Davies

British businesses will be forced to prove they are doing everything they can to eradicate slave labour and human trafficking in their supply chains, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.

The announcement comes ahead of the Prime Minister's visit to Vietnam, one of the biggest source of human trafficking victims in the UK. Around 3,000 Vietnamese children are believe to be working in cannabis farms and nail salons in the UK.

The plans, which will launch in October, will affect roughly 12,000 businesses with a turnover of more than £36 million.

The UK's larger businesses will have to issue a yearly statement to explain what they are doing to ensure slave labour and human trafficking is not being used by suppliers.

David Cameron said: "It is shocking that of thousands of Vietnamese children in the UK are being used for profit by criminal gangs and that dozens more children are estimated to arrive on our shores every month.

"That's why it's so important that we work with Vietnam to identify what more we can do to tackle this issue together."

Anti Slavery International praised the plans, but insisted that a number of loopholes needed to be closed by the government in order for the scheme to be successful.

Phil Bulman, managing consultant at Vendigital, a firm of supply chain and procurement specialists, said:
“The issue of modern slavery and human trafficking is creating a real dilemma for businesses; they need to balance a requirement to source products and services cost-effectively and stay competitive, while operating ethically, which is increasingly important in consumer-driven markets.

“By encouraging companies to be more accountable for their supply chains, the incoming legislation means they will need to start policing their supply relationships even more closely and invest more resources in doing so. This will require greater corporate honesty as it will no longer be acceptable for businesses to ignore what they can’t see. This is vital if they wish to avoid potentially-damaging supply chain scandals in the future."