The Modern Slavery Act 2015 received Royal Assent on 26 March 2015.
It’s main points in relation to criminal matters are as follows:
- the Act increases the maximum sentence available for the most serious offenders from 14 years to life imprisonment
- the Act creates an offence of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour, replacing the existing offence in section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009
- a single offence of human trafficking, covering sexual and non-sexual exploitation, is introduced in section 2, replacing the two existing offences in section 59A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and section 4 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants etc) Act 2004. This change is for administrative purposes
- these new offences will be added to Schedule 2 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, ensuring convicted defendants will be deemed to have a criminal lifestyle and subject to confiscation orders
- the Act introduces powers to make slavery and trafficking reparation orders following conviction. This is to compensate for exploitation and degradation suffered by victims. These orders should only be made where a defendant has means to pay them.
- the Act provides a defence for slavery or trafficking victims, intended to encourage victims to come forward without fear of being convicted of offences connected to their slavery or trafficking situation
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