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MA responds to modern slavery consultation

MA response

12 February 2021
MA responds to modern slavery consultation

The MA has submitted a response to the Sentencing Council’s consultation on Modern Slavery. The consultation sought views on revised sentencing guidelines for offenders guilty of modern slavery offences. The proposed guidelines: 

  • Covered two main offences under the Modern Slavery Act 2015: offences contrary to section 1 (slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour) and section 2 (human trafficking)
  • Proposed having one guideline covering both section 1 and section 2 offences with the same culpability and harm factors and the same aggravating and mitigating factors
  • Proposed that courts reserve the most severe penalties for offenders in a leading role who expected substantial financial advantage and who exposed victims to an extremely high risk of death, serious physical, sexual or psychological harm, or substantial and long-term adverse impact
  • Recognised not just the physical and financial harm suffered by victims, but also the psychological harm, which in many cases can be long-lasting. The consultation paper noted that harm may not always be obvious, and the guidelines direct the courts to make sure they consider all the facts of the case, even where a victim is unwilling or unable to give evidence

The MA response generally agreed with the proposals in the draft guideline and made the following suggestions:

  • The MA agreed with the proposed culpability factors but suggested the addition of ‘uses business as a cover’ and ‘abuses a positon of trust or responsibility’ as additional high culpability factors and ‘some awareness and understanding of scale of operation’ as an additional medium culpability factor
  • The MA agreed that the proposed harm factors seem sensible, especially the recognition that in offences of modern slavery the victim may not appreciate the level of coercion they have suffered
  • The MA suggested that to ensure that modern slavery is fully understood and recognised, it would be beneficial to introduce training on the matter for criminal justice agencies and the courts

The full MA response can be found here.

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