Approximately 40 million people are trapped in slavery around the world today. One in four of them are children, and three-quarters of them are women and girls. There are many examples of modern slavery, and if you, your business or your organisation are accused of a modern slavery offence, you must speak to a criminal solicitor from a leading firm of solicitors as soon as possible since the consequences can be severe.
Forced labour is a very common form of modern slavery. It is an offence in which a person or a group of people are forced to work against their will because of a threat of punishment. This can occur in commercial labour and can be conducted by an organisation or a group of people. It is common in industries that are not regulated properly; a few examples would be domestic work, prostitution, agriculture and fishing. The type of labour varies according to the country you are in. Examples of forced labour in the UK can be found on farms, in construction and manufacturing, in shops, nail bars and in car washes. Victims of forced labour include children, people living in poverty, those who are unemployed and those who cannot find a permanent job.
Human trafficking is another common form of modern slavery. People are taken against their will to a different location, and there is often a recruitment phase with promises of a good future. However, when the victims find themselves in the hands of the offenders, they are exploited using violence, coercion or deception and forced to work and often carry out criminal activity. Sex work, forced labour, and even forced marriage can occur as a result of human trafficking.
Forced labour and human trafficking can be triable either way; this means they can be tried in a Magistrates’ Court, or they may be taken to the Crown Court. It is essential that you have a criminal solicitor to defend your case. Modern-day slavery charges can carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment but, on average, range between a high-level community order and 18 years of custody. Sentencing depends on your culpability and the role you played in the offence; for example, high culpability would be if you had a leading role in the offence, whilst low culpability would be if you were involved in the offence as a result of pressure or intimidation or as a victim of trafficking yourself. The extent of harm caused by the offence will also determine the sentencing. If the events involved multiple victims, risk of death and took place over a significant period, then the sentencing will be more severe. The role of your criminal solicitor will be to have the charges dropped; however, if you are found guilty or you plead guilty because the evidence is against you, your criminal solicitor will show that your culpability in the offence was very low. This strategy will help to reduce the consequences in order to achieve the most positive outcome possible for your case.