This research project analysed the evidence base to understand how Section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act has played out in practice since its introduction.
The Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre (Modern Slavery PEC) was established in 2019 with £10 million in government funding. The Centre brings together a consortium of universities and independent research organisations with a track record in world-class work on modern slavery, including the Wilberforce Institute. Dr Alicia Heys, Lecturer in Modern Slavery at the Wilberforce Institute, leads one of the Modern Slavery PEC's priority research strands, looking into the legal enforcement of modern slavery.
The research focused specifically on Section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act. This is the statutory defence for individuals who were compelled to commit a criminal offence as part of their slavery experience.
By scrutinising the available information from government and non-governmental organsiation reports, as well as relevant academic literature, this project provided insight not only into how effective the statutory defence is in practice, but also on the reliability and robustness of the evidence base.