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16 Mär 2023

Ethan Shon & Harriet Clugston, National World, UK

UK: Charges brought in less than 2% of modern slavery cases, 'emboldening' traffickers

"Modern slavery: people traffickers ‘emboldened’ as charges brought in fewer than one in 50 cases"

People traffickers, slavers and criminal exploiters are only charged by police in a tiny minority of cases, leaving victims “hugely dispirited” and potentially emboldening perpetrators....

The 2015 Modern Slavery Act was introduced to crack down on people traffickers amid a growing awareness of the widespread nature of modern slavery and serious exploitation, allowing for judges to give out life sentences. Common offences include women being trafficked for sex work and fruit and vegetables pickers effectively kept in indentured labour.

But the charge rate for modern slavery offences has dropped to a new low of less than 2%, with almost 40,000 crimes since 2015 not resulting in charges being brought, according to our analysis of Home Office data for England and Wales....

Andrew Wallis, chief executive of Unseen UK, a leading modern slavery charity and designated first responder organisation, told NationalWorld that modern slavery cases are “notoriously difficult” to prosecute, in part because victims are often very vulnerable and hesitant to engage with authorities.

He also cited low charge rates and lenient sentencing as factors that discourage victims from cooperating with prosecutions, saying: “If you’re a victim and you’ve got the courage to come forward, but your exploiter may only get four years and they’re out within two, and you perceive them to threaten your life, why would you go forward?”

Victims may also be concerned about their information being shared with immigration enforcement if they come forward, according to Peter Wieltschnig, policy and networks officer at Focus on Labour Exploitation ...