MODERN SLAVERY ACT: ONE YEAR ON
A Gov.UK report examines the effectiveness of the Modern Slavery Act one year after it’s creation.
The report aims to answer four main questions:
- Is there sufficient awareness of the criminal justice measures contained within the Act?
- How well are the measures in the Act being implemented?
- Are there gaps in the provisions of the Act?
- What recommendations are there to fill any gaps found?
As practitioners, it is clear that while the number of prosecutions have increased in the last year (most still under the old offences) the Modern Slavery Act continues to present challenges to the police and Crown Prosecution Service. There remains a lack of consistency in how these cases are dealt with, and we are pleased to see this reflected in the report.
Indeed, the report recognises that this particularly challenging area of the law requires frontline staff to be equipped with tools, training and processes that are currently lacking.
The report makes several specific recommendations, including:
- Each police force should appoint or identify single points of contact on modern slavery and exploitation – one at strategic command level and one at tactical investigative level
- Training for police officers, to include basic training for every police officer on modern slavery and trafficking to be incorporated into the national policing curriculum
- Training for prosecutors, lawyers and the judiciary. The Crown Prosecution Service website in particular was found to be out of date.
- Modern Slavery Act cases to be referred to a Complex Case Unit within the CPS, with each CPS region’s Complex Case Unit comprising a senior charging lawyer trained to deal with exploitation and slavery cases
- Consideration to be given to creating a Visa order preventing an offender from applying and/or sponsoring another person’s entry into the UK
- Consideration to be given to enhancing police powers of detainment for own protection
It is clear that the Modern Slavery Act is being implemented in its current, imperfect form, and has resulted in 884 modern slavery crimes being recorded across England and Wales between April 2015 and March 2016.
As well as the Modern Slavery Act, convictions have been secured for:
- Slavery, servitude and forced labour
- Human trafficking for sexual exploitation
- Human trafficking for non-sexual exploitation
Nine Slavery and Trafficking Risk Orders (STROs) have been applied for, and sixteen Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Orders (STPOs) have been made under s14 Modern Slavery Act.
These numbers are significantly lower than the Government’s estimates of the number of slavery victims in the UK, and defence firms should see this as a signal that the Modern Slavery Act will be used as a continued focus on these offences and securing an increased number of prosecutions.
If you, or someone you know, is being investigated or prosecuted for a Modern Slavery Act related offence, our expert team can help. Call us now on 01623 397200.