Commentary

B. Offences of slavery and trafficking

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| Commentary

B. Offences of slavery and trafficking

| Commentary

B.     Offences of slavery and trafficking

The 2020 UK Annual Report on Modern Slavery published by the Department of Justice reported that there were 8,730 offences against the MSA 2015 recorded by the police in the year to 31 March 2021, a 5 per cent increase on the previous year. A total of 259 people were charged by the Crown Prosecution Service, a small increase on the year before. The number of prosecutions completed in 2020 was 267, compared with 349 in the previous year – this was attributed in the Annual Report to the impact of COVID-19 on the level of activity in the courts.

The MSA 2015 s 1 makes it an offence knowingly to hold another person in slavery or servitude or to require another person to perform forced or compulsory labour. This offence replaces, and extends, a similar one which was contained in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 s 71. The terms slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour are by virtue of s 1(2) to be construed in accordance with Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Whilst that Article does not define these terms beyond setting out certain exclusions from the term 'forced or compulsory labour', clearly the result of MSA 2015 s 1(2) is that the judgments of the ECtHR and admissibility decisions of the former European Commission of Human Rights are relevant. There are in fact few

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