What is the Modern Slavery Act?
Modern slavery is one of the most heinous human rights abuses in the modern world, in which victims are exploited for someone else’s gain. It can occur in a variety of ways such as the trafficking of people, forced labour and servitude, but crucially it involves exercising control over a vulnerable person for the purpose of exploitation.
Just as its preceding variations in previous centuries, modern slavery remains one of the most horrific crimes in the 21st century with an estimated 136,000 victims said to be living in modern slavery in the UK alone.
The UK, being a party to the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, introduced the Modern Slavery Act 2015 which was designed to help fight modern slavery in the UK by ensuring perpetrators are first identified and suitably punished and guaranteeing that support for victims is improved.
This led to the creation of the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), which is the framework for identifying victims and ensuring they receive appropriate care in the UK. The NRM is designed to identify potential victims of modern slavery and refer them to the Single Competent Authority (SCA) and facilitate their access to support.
It can be used as a defence for drugs offences committed as part of 'County Lines' cases.
The Act can also cover offences such as immigration offences, theft, assaults or conspiracy cases.
What are the possible remedies?
If there is a criminal trial, s.45 Modern Slavery Act 2015 can provide a defence in relation to certain offences, and may be successfully argued in order to conclude criminal matters.
Due to the nature of certain crimes, there are obligations placed on the public authorities to protect victims of modern slavery.
Where authorities have fallen short or failed in their positive obligations for to protect you as a victim of modern slavery, we can assist you in obtaining compensation against the state under both domestic and international law.
At MTC Solicitors, it is our view that it is crucial that people who have been victims are able to consider seeking a legal remedy through the civil courts or tribunals and as such we are able to provide advice regarding a client’s options for seeking compensation through these routes.
Women & Modern Slavery
70% of the 40.3 million people in modern slavery are women and girls. When broken down into different forms of modern slavery, females are over represented in forced labour (59%), forced marriage (84%), and forced sexual exploitation (99%). At any given time, some 16 million people around the world are victims of forced and bonded labour and trafficking in the private sector, affecting nearly 9.5 million women.
Women and girls are increasingly being used in County Lines drugs network, local dealing, transporting firearms and paraphernalia, including criminal money.
Women and girls are also more at risk of being exploited for other means as well. Exploitation includes, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or removal of organs.
We can help women and girls who are arrested or worried about their situation.
Call us immediately.
Types of slavery offences
Prostitution – This concerns prostitution or forms of sexual exploitation. Women or young persons can be lured, often abroad, by the false promise of wealth and a better life.
Slavery or similar practices – People are moved from place to place and can sometimes be drugged to control them. Victims can be forced to call their family to send cash to secure their freedom; this can then be confiscated by gangs.
Forced labour or forced services – This can be linked to a debt to the trafficker and involves work in the construction, service, agriculture or entertainment services. Drugs, firearms, contraband, proceeds from crime, and even other humans are common reasons for being forced into modern slavery.
Servitude – When people are made to provide domestic work either through direct force or coercion by other means.
Smuggling migrants into the UK – Migrants can be illegally smuggled into the UK in vehicles such as aircraft or boats.
At MTC Solicitors, we have over 20 years of experience in handling the most serious and complex criminal charges, including acting for people who have been victims of trafficking and modern slavery.
Due to our expertise and client-base we have regular instructions to consider modern slavery as a concern in our cases.
Our Criminal Department understands it is often the case that the first point of contact with the authorities for victims of modern slavery is at the time of their arrest. This is in part due to the fact that victims of modern slavery often do not identify themselves as such, or are unwilling to come forward to public authorities, for fear of reprisal, deportation, or of not being believed.
We were one of the first law firms to represent victims of modern slavery and support successful referrals to the NRM.
Our team are therefore trained to spot the signs of modern slavery and to assert their client's right to protection, in the police station and the courts.
We can support you from the point of arrest by police or National Crime Agency (NCA) officers, as well as during each stage of any subsequent investigation or prosecution, giving you the best chance of securing a favourable outcome. We can also advise you before the point of arrest or being charged if you have concerns