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Criminal Defences


Modern slavery defences you should be aware of

Modern Slavery offences are complex and difficult to understand. Individuals finding themselves charged with modern slavery offences have increased tremendously over the past 10 years. Many of us would not be able to say what a modern slavery offence is when asked, yet prosecution rates for these offences continue to rise.  

Throughout the past few years, Crown Prosecution Services and the police have been focused more on Modern Slavery cases related to human trafficking, modern slavery, and drug trafficking.  

The media consistently publishes articles related to “County Lines” drug trafficking. “County Lines” refers to the exploitation of young and vulnerable children by inner-city drug dealers. They are enlisted to aid and assist drug dealers in the trafficking of illegal drugs across the country, much to the detriment of the child and their family’s lives. 

In order to arrest those charged with Modern Slavery offences, the police and Crown Prosecution have put a larger emphasis on the use of evidence, in particular evidence found on digital devices, cell site analysis and other forms of covert analysis to prove their case against a defendant.   

In this article we will walk you through the definition of modern slavery, what modern slavery is in the eyes of English and Welsh law, the distinct actions that constitute a modern slavery offence and the defences you can use when charged with a modern slavery offence.  


Have you or a loved one been charged with a modern slavery offence? We understand just how frightened, worried, and concerned you may be.  

If you or someone you love has been charged with a Modern Slavery offence it is imperative that you reach out for legal advice as soon as possible from an expert criminal defence solicitor, like us.  

We are available 24/7 so if you have any questions that have not been answered in this article, call us on 0208 888 5225, use the WhatsApp link on this page or contact us


‘Modern Slavery’ encompasses many separate crimes under one umbrella term. In England and Wales, Modern Slavery cases have increased dramatically since the passage of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (the Act), as well as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on increasing extreme global poverty. This is a cross-country, cross-jurisdictional, and often international crime.  

Due to this growing prevalence of cases and prosecutions of modern slavery offences, the CPS, government, and police have made a calculated crack down on activity that is perceived as modern slavery.  

There are four main offences within the umbrella of Modern Slavery recognised by English and Welsh law.  

These 4 main offences include:  

  1. Human trafficking,  
  1. Slavery,  
  1. Servitude,  
  1. Forced or compulsory labour. 

From March 2018 to March 2019, the police in England and Wales recorded 5,144 modern slavery offences, an increase of over 50% from the previous year.  

205 suspects of modern slavery flagged cases were referred from the police to the CPS for a charging decision in England and Wales from March 2018 to March 2019. 68% of these modern slavery-related CPS prosecutions in England and Wales resulted in a conviction. 

The British government has highlighted many sectors of employment that are a breeding ground for Modern Slavery offences. These include industrial cleaning companies, meat works, the hospitality sector, construction, manufacturing, agriculture, including fruit and vegetable picking, and fishing. 


Modern Slavery is defined by the National Crime Agency as: 

“The recruitment, movement, harbouring or receiving of children, women or men through the use of force, coercion, abuse of vulnerability, deception or other means for the purpose of exploitation.” 

But within this definition, there are many different scenarios and situations that can constitute and be considered acts of modern slavery.  

In the next section, we have detailed at length the many different offences of modern slavery that are recognised by the Crown Prosecution Service and the police. 


Here are some types of modern slavery defined by the British Anti-Slavery Commissioner: 


  1. Victims are exploited for multiple purposes in isolated environments, 
  2. Victims work for offenders, 
  3. Victims work for someone other than offenders.


  1. Exploited by their partner,
  2. Exploited by relatives, such as in-laws
  3. Exploiters that are not related to the victims.


  1. Child sexual exploitation – Group of offenders
  2. Child sexual exploitation – Single offender
  3. Forced sex work in a fixed location,
  4. Forced sex work in a changing location, 
  5. Human Trafficking for personal gratification is an act that much of the time is sexual exploitation.


  1. Forced gang‑related criminality, such as “County Lines” drug dealing,
  2. Forced labour in illegal activities, such as the cultivation of Cannabis,
  3. Forced acquisitive crime, such as theft or robbery.
  4. Forced begging, such that is present in some Roma and Traveller communities,
  5. Trafficking for forced sham marriage, such that is present in the Pakistani community.
  6. Financial fraud, including benefit fraud.


There are some things that are normal and everyday events in other people’s cultures that are considered modern-day slavery in the UK. In this section we will go through some everyday situations and habits that you may be doing that can be considered examples of modern slavery like exploitation, servitude, or slavery.  

Despite the UK’s firm stance against Modern Slavery, as demonstrated in the Modern Slavery Act 2015, people – broadly women and children – are consistently forced into different forms of modern-day slavery every day in the UK at an alarmingly growing rate.  

The British Anti-Slavery Commissioner conducted a survey of modern slavery offence cases across the UK in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland for a report entitled “A Typology of Modern Slavery Offences in the UK.” In this report they determined the most common countries where cases of modern slavery originate and come into the UK from.  

“Sham” or “forced” or arranged marriages are extremely prevalent in cases of Modern Slavery offences being brought against people.  

In these situations, women travel from another country – usually from Asia or the Arab states – to be married in an arranged marriage. This can be interpreted as trafficking a person for a “sham” marriage or personal gain.  

Often, modern slavery charges presently involve allegations of “sham marriages”, in which a woman is transported from another country, such as Pakistan, into servitude or enslavement for the purpose of marriage and servitude. These accusations usually involve threats of violence, coercion, abuse of power, and deception against the woman. 

Many people help migrants from mainland European countries like Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. Those from or living currently in England or Wales assist these workers to cross into the UK and find work and accommodation. Did you know if you do this, you could face a modern slavery accusation? 

It is possible to be accused or investigated by the authorities for Modern Slavery if you assist migrant workers to come to the UK for work. This is done by assisting with their travel, obtaining identification like passports, or finding their accommodations.  

If those who help these workers take a travel and accommodation debt from the person they have helped to come into the country, this can be considered modern slavery by way of human trafficking. It is illegal to withhold someone else’s wages until they pay off a “debt” they have incurred in the process of travelling to the UK.   

Young Vietnamese boys are often trafficked into forced labour on cannabis cultivation farms in the UK, where they are later arrested and charged with producing drugs. Other young people from Vietnam are commonly trafficked to the UK to work in nail bars. These victims are often underage teenage girls who have been allegedly brought to the UK for labour exploitation. 

Many women are trafficked from Nigeria, namely Edo State and its capital Benin City. They are told that they will work a job provided by their traffickers while they gain the right to work in the UK. However, when they arrive at their destination in the UK, they are forced into sexual exploitation, i.e., prostitution. As a result of the tumultuous family situation of the victims, along with their naivety, lack of education, and lack of opportunity, they are often vulnerable to promises offered by traffickers. Oftentimes, they are coerced using “Juju” or Nigerian and West African voodoo rituals. They are designed to make victims feel completely dependent on and controlled by their traffickers and extremely fearful of being cursed as a result of disobeying their traffickers’ orders. 


If you or a loved one has been charged with crimes related to modern slavery, you may feel uncertain, stressed out, and scared about what might happen next.  

There may be confusion about your case and misconceptions about what happened and who was involved. It is quite possible that you were not involved in the alleged situation and should not have been implicated in the case. 

In this article, we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions by our clients accused of modern slavery offences. We strive to ensure our client’s cases are as easy as possible, and this begins here.  

If we do not answer your questions in this article reach out to us at 0208 888 5225, use the WhatsApp link on this page or contact us now. Our criminal defence solicitors will try to provide all the information they can. 


Being charged with a modern slavery offence is an extremely worrying time for anybody accused. You are most likely worried about the prospect of a lengthy custodial prison sentence and possibly a hefty fine.  

We can walk you through the first stages of investigations of this nature. We recommend you seek the advice and representation of legal counsel as soon as possible to secure yourself a positive position to create your defence and secure yourself a positive case outcome.  

You will typically only become aware that you are a part of a modern slavery investigation when the police contact you and notify you of this. Initially, you could be asked whether you know the person indicated as the victim or complainant. You could also be asked questions about whether the person in question has been legally permitted to work in the UK.  

If you are being questioned by the police about modern slavery charges in relation to human trafficking and exploitation of an individual working you may be asked about how you came to employ this person, or people, how many hours they are working, where they are staying, what their salary is and whether they signed an employment contract or not.  


We have represented clients accused of different modern slavery offences with different implications. These include cases involving human trafficking and sexual exploitation.  

We at Stuart Miller Solicitors know that the events that transpire in your police interview can determine the outcome of your court case.  

Making sure you are working with an experienced modern slavery defence lawyer who has countless successful case outcomes under their belt can mean the difference between a positive case outcome and a lengthy prison sentence.  


Please note that in many cases of Modern Slavery, those that have allegedly committed these crimes have been falsely accused.  

If you feel you have been falsely accused of modern slavery offences, it is imperative that you reach out to a criminal defence solicitor as soon as possible. The sooner you gain legal advice and intervention, the more likely your case is to be dismissed.  


Section 45 Modern Slavery Act 2015 came into force on 31 July 2015. It details a defence for child offenders who were forced to commit criminal offences. It does not apply to those accused and charged with Modern Slavery offences, though.  

This section of The Act introduces a defence for children who have committed a criminal offence. If they did so as a result of having been a victim of modern slavery or human trafficking, they will not be found guilty.  

To read more about this defence for child offenders, especially in connection to County Lines drug charges, read our article here. 


In the event of a criminal conviction under the Modern Slavery Bill, unless the defendant can prove otherwise, the court can presume that the assets held by the defendant over the last six years are proceeds of the crime. 

This includes offences described under clause 1 of the Modern Slavery Bill, slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour and clause 2, human trafficking. 


Once charged, your home will be searched by police once they have acquired a search warrant from a judge or magistrate. This search will be intended to support the police and Crown Prosecution Service in gathering further evidence in their prosecution against you.  

During the search, police officers will search through important documents in your home like letters and paperwork, your personal computer, phone, and other technology. They could also examine your car or your place of work to find evidence to achieve a solid conviction.  


The sentence that you receive for a modern slavery offence will depend on the offence you are charged with.  

According to the sentencing guidelines, the Modern Slavery offence of “slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour and Human trafficking” has a maximum sentence of 18 years in a custodial prison sentence.  

For a more comprehensive explanation of the sentencing guidelines regarding Modern Slavery offences, read our article.  


Modern Slavery offences are serious offences and predominantly result in custodial sentences for those charged. Taking legal advice at the earliest onset of an investigation or charge of a modern slavery offence may help you get your case thrown out or resolved outside of the Courts.  

We are instructed on charges of modern slavery offences regularly and have current and relevant expertise in expert defences of these charges.  

If you have been charged or have been notified that you are under investigation for modern slavery offences, our serious crime team can provide you with legal guidance and advice to guide you in taking the best possible action in your case. Contact us now, we are here to help whenever you need us. 


Without a skilled and adept solicitor, you will be left without the imperative legal advice and much-needed support and guidance for police interviews. More often than not, the police will withhold essential information they have about the case and against you in the hopes that you will contradict them in an interview.  

By working with one of our sharp defence lawyers or police station representatives you will have clarity about the best strategy for your interview, so you do not incriminate yourself accidentally. 

How can Stuart Miller Solicitors help you? 

We know that being charged with a modern slavery offence can be devastating for those charged and their family. Our team of criminal defence solicitors will work tirelessly alongside you to understand the factual circumstances surrounding the allegations brought against you by the police and Crown Prosecution Service. We are primed to move quickly to secure all possibly valuable defence evidence that emerges from your instructions to us.  

Our criminal defence solicitors have accumulated countless years of experience analysing the evidence presented by prosecution. They have been trained specifically to identify the strengths as well as weaknesses of the prosecution’s case against you. We will also look for illegally obtained evidence and be forthright in contesting the admissibility of evidence and the reliability of witnesses and their statements.  

The prosecution’s case against you is often gathered by analysis of the material gained during a seizure and search of your computer or phone. Our criminal defence solicitors have substantial experience analysing telephone and observation evidence gathered by the police. Any other personal documents, such as your financial statements, will be thoroughly analysed to weigh their potential evidential impact if used as evidence by the prosecution.  

Our solicitors strive to attain for you only the absolute best barristers or KCs to act as your counsel in court who will work alongside us to build your defence case. The best defence cases are a collaborative process of experts in their fields, such as computer forensics analysts and mobile phone experts to design the best defence strategy and secure your chances of a positive case outcome.  

Would you like to discuss your case? 

Do you need a consultation with an expert criminal defence solicitor before you instruct us on your case, arrange a no-fee-consultation with us today. 

If you have been arrested, request us as your representation. Our defence lawyers are well trained in Legal Aid and will assist you in securing Legal Aid. 

How to contact us 

Our criminal defence lawyers are available to you 24/7 to assist you in your legal defence, contact us now for an in-person meeting at our offices or a consultation over the phone.  

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