Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement

This is the fifth statement that the University of Portsmouth (“the University”) has made pursuant to the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. The University remains fully committed to tackling human trafficking in its supply chains and in all other areas of our activity.

In this statement we will provide an update on the actions we committed to achieve in our previous annual statement and, reflecting on our previous activity in this area, we will set out the progress that the University plans to take over the coming twelve months to ensure, as far as possible, that slavery and human trafficking are not taking place in any part of our organisation or our supply chains.

The University’s Structure

The core business of the University is teaching, research and innovation, undertaken by five academic faculties supported by professional services. The University has approximately 25,000 students and 3,500 staff. The University is supported by a centralised procurement and contracting function located within the Finance Department with transactional purchasing devolved to individual faculties and services.

Procurement in the University of Portsmouth

As a public body the University complies with the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, and currently manages an external spend of approximately £102 million per annum. The diverse nature of the requirements involves dealing with a large number of suppliers, their sub-contractors and their supply chains.

The University’s supplier base ranges from cutting-edge scientific/engineering equipment and materials required for the delivery of core business to the goods and services necessary to support the operation of a successful University. Modern slavery is considered as part of each category or project strategy where appropriate in terms of likelihood of incidence, and any relevant mitigating actions required for its identification are identified.

Update on Activities

In our previous Modern Slavery Statement the University said it would aim to achieve the following:

  • Use communication strategies to increase awareness generally within the University of the risks and implications of modern slavery and the steps that staff can take to work with the University to tackle this issue.
  • Trial the Higher Education Procurement Association’s online modern slavery training programme with targeted employees and report in the next annual statement on the numbers of employees trained and in which areas.
  • Include coverage, where appropriate, of modern slavery within the University’s Procurement Strategy document.

Our Progress

During the year an all staff communication was issued via the University’s Staff News bulletin entitled “The University’s Role in Tackling Modern Slavery”, the purpose of which was to highlight the issue to staff who may not naturally come across this as part of their day to day roles. The bulletin also contained links to the University’s Modern Slavery Policy, the most recent Modern Slavery Statement and invited feedback and comments from staff on modern slavery and human trafficking related issues.

We identified the Higher Education Procurement Association’s (HEPA) free online training programmes as being suitable for use within the University in terms of content, tone and messaging. HEPA provides two types of online training; a basic and an advanced programme. Both programmes were trialled by the University Solicitor and the Procurement Manager. The Procurement Team have also completed the basic level online training. It is considered that the basic programme is appropriate for most university staff as it raises awareness generally of the issue, with the advanced programme being suitable for those employees whose role means that they are more likely to encounter modern slavery related issues.

During the last financial year, a new Procurement Policy and a Procurement Manual were developed by the University’s Procurement Team, and will undergo a soft launch during the autumn of 2020. These cover the issue of modern slavery and how it should be considered during procurement activity within the University, and will be supplemented with relevant guidance, articles and other material on the Procurement Team’s intranet pages to help raise the profile of this issue.

Activities for the Next 12 months

Last year the decision was taken to move away from the data gathering activities we had previously undertaken to take on a broader, more proactive approach to tackling Modern Slavery within the University’s supply chain. We would like to build on this theme for the coming year and, with this in mind, the University’s targets for the next 12 months are as set out below:

  • To continue to raise the awareness of University staff of this key issue by issuing further all staff bulletins on the subject, including this time specific case studies which focus on the human and financial cost associated with modern slavery.
  • For all the Procurement Team staff to complete the advanced HEPA online Modern Slavery training and for targeted staff within the broader Finance Team to complete the basic level HEPA training.
  • To conduct an analysis of the Modern Slavery statements and activities of Universities in this area within our competitor group (those with similar student numbers and profile) to assess our performance against our peers and draw on best practice.
  • To continue to require that new suppliers provide information on their policies and procedures for tackling modern slavery when tendering for business with the University.
  • To undertake a risk assessment of all key suppliers to inform a view on compliance amongst suppliers and to identify any causes for concern.


Jane Hoskins

Chair, Board of Governors

This statement is made pursuant to section 54(1) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and constitutes the University’s slavery and human trafficking statement for the financial year ending 31 July 2020.

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