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What Works in Preventing Modern Slavery

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 2720 words Published: 22nd Feb 2019

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This essay focuses on Modern Slavery which covers human trafficking, slavery, forced labour and domestic slavery. It will concentrate on forced labour within the Modern Slavery Act 2015. It will outline what force labour means, review statistics that evidence the extent of the problem, and then make some recommendations to stop forced labour.

According to International Labour Organisation (ILO) (2017) forced labour refers to the act of coercing or deceiving someone into working against their will. Victims of forced labour are often controlled by their ‘employers’ through various means such as threats, physical harm, confiscation of identity documents and the withholding of wages. Indirect force may be used such as retaining the documentation of the foreign nations to prevent them from returning to their native country. They go on to say that forced labour and human trafficking are modern forms of slavery and require attention. They are not identical within the legal system. Most situations of slavery and human trafficking are covered by their definition of forced labour.

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Children.gov.on.ca commented in a ‘Review of the Roots of Youth Violence’ paper that rational choice theory is based on the original opinions of classical criminology, which enables people to freely choose their behaviour and is motivated by the avoidance of pain and to search for pleasure. In terms of offending, rational choice suggests that offenders weigh the potential benefits and consequences associated with committing an offence. Rational choice focuses on the opportunity to commit crime and on how criminal choices are structured by the social environment and situational variables.

The ILO reported in 2017, that there is an estimation of 40.3 million people in modern slavery. This includes 24.9 million in forced labour and 15.4 million who are in forced marriages. This means there are 5.4 victims of modern slavery to 1,000 people in the world. Roughly 10 million children are victims of modern slavery. Of the 24.9 million people who are trapped in forced labour, 16 million people are exploited as domestic work, construction or agriculture by the private sector, 4.8 million people are exploited within the sex world and 4 million people are forced labour by the state authorities.

Below the charts in figure 1 and figure 2 shows the ILO’s Global estimates of modern slavery: including forced labour and forced marriage.

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 protects people held for slavery or servitude and if they are forced into it or compulsory labour beyond their will. Also, human trafficking is covered by The Act, by making it an offence if anyone arranges and enables another person to travel, who is going to be exploited. This person can be either an adult or child. The Modern Slavery Act 2015 consolidates existing offences of human trafficking and slavery and encompasses trafficking for all forms of exploitation. This Act replaces offences of human trafficking arising under section 59A Sexual Offences Act 2003 and section 4 Asylum and Immigration Act 2004. The Act also replaces the offence of holding another person in slavery or servitude or requiring another person to perform forced or compulsory labour arising under section 71 Coroners and Justice Act 2009 (cps.gov.uk). This consolidation of existing regulations into a single statue is an important development in the UK because hopefully to improve the conviction rates current criminal offences in relation to slavery and trafficking and by increasing the maximum penalty to deter potential offenders. Tilley (2009) notes the general value of specific deterrence within a Direct Criminal Justice System (CJS) Approach points out that offenders are deterred from committing future crimes by the unpleasantness of punishment, by having harsher penalties and these seeing others being punished and will other individuals from committing crimes.

The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Strategic Plan 2015–2017, was produced by the government in line with the Modern Slavery Act 2015. The Strategic Plan acknowledges the scale of the problem of modern slavery and makes practical recommendations to try to address the issues. Within the document the Home Office estimates in UK that there were between 10,000 – 13,000 potential victims of modern slavery in 2014. There is some improvement to identify possible victims, so they can be removed from exploitation and protect them from further harm and enable them to receive the right help they need. Those victims often suffer from varied physical and psychological health issues. Some are classed as serious problems from the direct results of exploitation they may have suffered. It is important to make the victims feel safe and secure and protect them from harm by getting them the support and care once they are removed from those who have been exploiting them. This is so they can be empowered to increase their long-term healing, strength, and regain into inclusive society and to rebuild their lives. The way forward for this to be achieved is to work with the Home Office, border control and health agencies across UK. Appropriate awareness raising, and training should be put in place and promoted regularly. They also need to regularly review the associated material is fit for purpose about helping the potential victims to access appropriate support and assistance.

More work is necessary within the immigration, border control, trading standards, police, courts and prosecution. Additionally, training is required to highlight the potential signs of victims whether they are UK citizens or foreign citizens. If police and the community should be vigilant and aware that a property has barred windows or curtains are permanently drawn, this may be because victims of modern slavery are possibly being held there. This is done to prevent them from climbing out. Other indications could be if the letterbox sealed up, so it cannot be used and is there any sign of electricity attached to neighbouring properties or directly from power lines. If businesses are using people for forced labour then they may be wearing inappropriate clothing required for the job, have poor hygiene, be fearful or unwilling to engage with the public or other colleagues.

The report outlines that modern slavery in the UK is a high profit and low risk crime. The reason for modern slavery is a high profit and low risk crime because human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises. Criminal organizations are increasingly attracted to human trafficking because, unlike drugs, humans can be sold repeatedly. Human trafficking not only involves sex and labour, but people are also trafficked for organ harvesting. So criminal organisations can distance themselves easily from the victims by selling them on regularly. In 2014 the Home Office estimated that approximately 11,500 potential victims of modern slavery across UK. They also report there were just 2,340 potential victims reported to the National Referral Mechanism. The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a framework for identifying victims of human trafficking or modern slavery and ensuring they receive the appropriate support. Very few modern slavery crimes come the attention of the police and criminal justice agencies and even fewer offenders are caught and convicted. The report estimates that 187 prosecutions involving human trafficking offences were flagged up by the Crown Prosecution Service in 2014-15 and 130 of those cases resulted in a successful conviction. However, data from Ministry of Justice showed only 39 convictions in 2014 from slavery and human trafficking offences as a principal offence. The discrepancy arguably indicates that the Crown Prosecution Service and Ministry of Justice are not working together effectively.

The anti-slavery organisation highlights how the UK can challenge modern slavery. They state there are three areas to focus on. Firstly, in policing. Although modern slavery has become more visual it has been rising considerably over the past few years. Some cases are still turned away by the police because they are not believed, and those who has been forced into crime have been treated as criminals. Secondly, is identification. The referral system in use often only looks at victims of forced labour through their immigration status. This means people from outside the European Union are up to four times less likely to be recognised as victims of trafficking and are often deported rather than protected. Also, visa rules also prevent overseas domestic workers from leaving abusive employers and seeking out new ones. This often leads them to suffer abuse in silence. Lastly, is protection. Protection and support for victims of trafficking is inconsistent, especially after all the government cuts and cost-efficiency savings. The victims of forced labour who have survived and been rescued, have been in a safe house to recover but that is only for a limited time and they do not get long-term support even if they need it, so they can fully recover and get their lives back on track. They also state that the protection of children is also of great concern. A Child Guardianship scheme has been included in the Modern Slavery Act, but the full implementation of it is not scheduled until mid-2019.

To help to prevent and reduce modern slavery, it would help to have a multi-agency team, which should include the police, health and social services, local authority, immigration, border control and trading standards. This is to be able to prevent other crimes committed within the modern slavery (forced labour) and crimes being committed by the victims of forced labour when trying to escape captivity.

Organisations like health and social services, local authority, housing departments, voluntary organisations are available to support the police with supporting victims of modern slavery. Some voluntary organisations which are available includes refuge, shelter, NSPCC, Women’s Aid and translation organisations. These agencies can help victims to trust authorities that they are there to help and will not deport them back to their original country. Deportation will not be done for up to 90 days as the victims have access to ‘move-on’ support, such as ongoing accommodation, counselling, expert advice and advocacy before the final decision is made (Newton, gov.uk). They can then hopefully set up a peer group to be able to support others with their experiences with agreement to have a councillor on hand if people need to talk through things as and when needed.

Other recommendations that possibly need to be in place are to have more border agency staff at ports and air ports to be able to check all vehicles arriving to stop illegal immigrants being brought in against their will or have paid the drivers to do so for a better life. More checks are needed on foreign national coming in with little money to support themselves. To disrupt criminal activity Tilley (2009) says there should be intelligence led policing to monitor and trace criminal organisations, and learn more about the offenders’ behaviour patterns. Also, when taken to court those drivers caught should be imposed with more severe fines because the fines are only £2,000 per migrant (express, 2017). For people who employ illegal immigrants’ penalties should be more severe than they are. At the present the sentences are imprisonment for 5 years and pay a fine of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker (gov.uk). Lastly, it is recommended that literature is published and advertised in different languages to help people what they need to do if they are victims or know someone who is possibly a victim of modern slavery (forced labour).

In conclusion this essay focused on modern slavery and mainly forced labour. It has highlighted that people are still victims of modern slavery (forced labour) since the Modern Slavery Act 2015 came into force. Modern Slavery Act 2015 and the Strategic plan are positive steps, but more is needed to be done to address modern slavery, given the extent and complexity of the issue. For example, importantly more public awareness need to be advertised to know what modern slavery and forced labour is about and what signs to look out for and how to report their fears. Also, the sentencing for people convicted needs to be more severe, and more convictions are needed to highlight the crime and raise awareness for the public and make them aware something to there to prevent it.


Adu, A. 2017. Lorry drivers receive record number of fines for bringing illegal immigrants into Britain. Available: www.express.co.uk/news/uk/821265/migrant-crisis-lorry-drivers-fined-immigrants-sneak-UK-vehicles. Last accessed 26 November 2017.

antislavery. 2017. What is modern slavery? Available: https://www.antislavery.org/slavery-today/modern-slavery/. Last accessed 4 December 2017.

CPS. 2017. Human Trafficking, Smuggling and Slavery. Available: http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/h_to_k/human_trafficking_and_smuggling/. Last accessed 19 December 2017.

gov.uk. 2016. Penalties for employing illegal workers. Available: https://www.gov.uk/penalties-for-employing-illegal-workers. Last accessed 26 November 2017

Hyland, K. 2015. Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Strategic Plan 2015–2017. Available: http://www.antislaverycommissioner.co.uk/media/1075/iasc_strategicplan_2015.pdf. Last accessed 29 November 2017.

Hyland, K. 2017. Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner: Annual Report 2016 – 2017. Available: http://www.antislaverycommissioner.co.uk/media/1164/iasc_annual-report-16-17-web.pdf. Last accessed 4 December 2017.

International Labour Organisation and Walk Free Foundation. 2017. Global estimates of modern slavery: forced labour and forced marriage. Available: http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@dgreports/@dcomm/documents/publication/wcms_575479.pdf. Last accessed 16 December 2017.

International Labour Organization (ILO). 2014. The meanings of Forced Labour. Available: http://www.ilo.org/global/topics/forced-labour/news/WCMS_237569/lang–en/index.htm. Last accessed 2 December 2017.

Myers, N. 2016. Review of the Roots of Youth Violence: Literature Reviews Volume 5, Chapter 3: Available: http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/professionals/oyap/roots/volume5/chapter03_rational_choice.aspx. Last accessed 6 January 2018.

Newton, S. 2016. Modern slavery victims to receive longer period of. Available: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/modern-slavery-victims-to-receive-longer-period-of-support. Last accessed 28 December 2017

The Modern Slavery Act 2015


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