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The Legal Enforcement of Modern Slavery

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The
Challenge

The Modern Slavery Act received Royal Assent on 26th March 2015. The intention behind the Act was to ‘give law enforcement the tools to fight modern slavery, ensure perpetrators can receive suitably severe punishments for these appalling crimes and enhance support and protection for victims’ (Home Office, 2018). Along with consolidating existing, related offences into a single act, the Modern Slavery Act introduced certain new duties and enforcement measures. In this research project, we analyse the evidence base to understand how the legal enforcement of modern slavery has been playing out in practice since the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act six years ago.

The
Approach

Lead researchers

alicia-kidd

Project funded by

Modern Slavery PEC

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 Kidd, Lecturer in Modern Slavery at the Wilberforce Institute, is leading one of the Modern Slavery PEC's priority research strands, looking into the legal enforcement of modern slavery.

The two-year research project focuses on specific sections of the Modern Slavery Act that relate to legal enforcement. The main topics of focus include Section 45 (the statutory defence for individuals who were compelled to commit a criminal offence as part of their slavery experience), prevention orders (preventing the defendant from doing anything that is described in the order) and penalties and sentencing.

The research analyses the evidence base relating to the legal enforcement of modern slavery in the UK. By scrutinising the available information from government and non-governmental organsiation reports, as well as relevant quantitative data and academic literature, this project will provide insight not only into how effective the legislation is in practice, but also on the reliability and robustness of the evidence base.

The Impact

The insight developed from this research will provide valuable understandings as to what is and is not working in practice with regards to the legal enforcement of modern slavery in the UK. It will highlight examples in best practice, but will also identify gaps in knowledge and areas for improvement. The research will assist in analysing strengths and weaknesses in the evidence base in order not only that improvements can be made regarding the data collected, but we will also provide recommendations based on the findings so that policy and practice can make changes to better meet the goals of the Modern Slavery Act of punishing perpetrators and protecting victims.

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Got a question or want to collaborate?
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