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Modern Slavery Act

It is estimated that approximately 45,800,000 are held in Modern Slavery across the world. In 2015, the Home Office estimated that there was between 10,000 to 13,000 victims of Modern Slavery in the UK.

In 2015, the Modern Slavery Act was introduced which gives greater powers to crime enforcement to deal with modern slavery.

There is a growing awareness of the types of criminal exploitation. Types of exploitation includes forced gang related criminality most commonly related to drug networks and ‘county lines’ drug dealing. Recently there was a conviction in South Wales where a female was driven from London to South Wales by a gang of drug dealers. As a consequence the drug dealers were also prosecuted under the Modern Slavery Act for trafficking.
Other areas of exploitation include forced labour. Three people were recently convicted for exploitation in respect of nail bars and there have been numerous arrests for exploitation at car washes.

This is clearly a complex and growing area of law which requires expert advice. Modern Slavery Act offences are now being added to indictments for drugs offences and sexual offences and it is important clients are advised from the outset and understand the implications.

These offences sometimes carry greater sentences than the substantive offence itself. A conviction under section 1 or 2 of the Modern Slavery Act carries a maximum life sentence. There are also additional ancillary orders which can be made on sentence including a Slavery & Trafficking Prevention Order, in addition to potential confiscation proceedings and other orders.

Guidance to assist courts when sentencing offences of sexual exploitation under section 2 of the Act has been included in the Sentencing Council’s sexual offences guidelines.

With greater frequency, we are required to advise potential victims of exploitation who may have been criminally prosecuted. Again this is a complex area which requires specialist advice. Section 45 Modern Slavery Act introduces a statutory defence for victims of exploitation. Those that have been exploited include young people exploited by drug dealing gangs. Each case will turn on its own facts and if you have been charged with serious offences please contact the Public Defender Service for expert advice.