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Modern slavery and human trafficking

Since 1824 we have worked to prevent cruelty, promote kindness towards and alleviate the suffering of animals, by all lawful means available.

One of our founders, William Wilberforce, went on to champion the abolition of slavery throughout the British empire. Our work is still underpinned by his vision of a caring world where all animals, and people, are respected and treated equally with compassion.

Learn more about our history

Who we are

We're a corporate body by virtue of the RSPCA Act 1932. We're a registered charity (no. 219099) covering England and Wales, with the main base just outside Horsham in West Sussex. We have many other premises including regional support offices and 17 associated animal establishments (animal centres, hospitals and clinics) that cater for both domestic and wild animals. Our workforce is around 1,500 staff plus 2,800 volunteers. We have a structured working relationship with Unite, allowing for collective bargaining with most of our workforce.

Our non-charitable trading arm, RSPCA Trading Limited, is a wholly owned subsidiary company limited by shares, Company No. 01072608. Its principal activities are trading in pet related products, receiving royalties in respect of the RSPCA logo (under licence from the charity) and advertising/sponsorship services. All profits are gifted to the charity.

Our subsidiary charitable company, Freedom Food (RSPCA Assured) Company No. 02723670 operates a food labelling scheme relating to animal welfare and traceability throughout the meat, fish and egg supply chains including farms, processors, packers, hauliers and abattoirs.

Read more about who we are

Delivering animal welfare ethically

We operate a number of internal policies to ensure that we are delivering our animal welfare objectives in an ethical and transparent manner. These include:

  • Recruitment policy. We operate a robust recruitment policy, including conducting 'eligibility to work in the UK' checks for all employees to safeguard against human trafficking or individuals being forced to work against their will.
  • Whistleblowing policy. We operate a whistleblowing policy and confidential reporting line so that all employees and volunteers know that they can raise concerns about how colleagues are being treated, or practices within the charity, without fear of reprisals.
  • Safeguarding: We have worked with the Social Care Institute for Excellence to redesign our safeguarding policy and commence a programme of charity wide training on adult and child safeguarding, including a dedicated website and reporting channel.
  • Code of Conduct. We set high standards on the manner in which we behave as an organisation and how we expect our people to act.

We have a small international department that works primarily through partner organisations in Asia, Africa and Europe.

Our suppliers

The key suppliers used by us and our subsidiaries to enable it to fulfil our charitable purposes are:

  • veterinary drug suppliers and veterinary practices
  • private boarding establishments
  • pet food manufacturers
  • professional fundraising services and commercial participators
  • clothing and vehicle suppliers
  • recruitment and advertising agencies
  • law firms
  • Auditors and Financial Advisers

There have been no major changes to our services and activities since our last published Modern Slavery Statement.

Modern Slavery Act statement

This is made under section 54(1) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. It constitutes our Anti-slavery and Human Trafficking Statement for the financial year ending 31 December 2022. This statement is approved by our Board, signed by the CEO and reviewed annually.

William Wilberforce, who led the anti-slavery movement in England during the early nineteenth century, was one of our founders. We wholeheartedly support the principles behind the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and are undertaking the steps listed below in order to comply with the Act and guard against slavery and trafficking in our supply chain. We will continue to develop and build upon these activities throughout 2022.

  • Publish this statement in our Trustees Annual Report and website homepage
  • Formalise ownership and governance around Modern Slavery in the wider ESG agenda
  • Continue to insert relevant provisions into current supply contracts and seek positive confirmation from high-risk and key suppliers of their compliance with the Act, including subcontractors through a robust diligence process 
  • Develop our dialogue with key tier 1 suppliers on our expectations in relation to Supply Chain Human Rights and establish a framework for tier 2 providers to engage in additional Due Diligence Provide additional  training on detection and prevention to our staff most likely to come across exploitative and illegal practices, such as forced labour and domestic servitude, with specific focus on RSPCA Assured staff who manage the accreditation process and the inspectorate  
  • Establish further organisation wide training programmes on slavery and human trafficking matters to be made available to staff 
  • Define and implement reporting and monitoring mechanisms reflecting our progression in slavery and human trafficking remediation and prevention activities. 

Adopted 16 March 2022 by RSPCA Board of Trustees

Chris Sherwood CEO

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