Modern slavery and human trafficking: Relevant legislation

This page provides information on legislation available to law enforcement and other bodies in investigating and prosecuting modern slavery and human trafficking crimes.

Modern Slavery Act 2015 

S.1 – Slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour.
S.2 – Human Trafficking
S.3 – Generic Meaning of exploitation
S.4 – Committing an offence with intent to commit a trafficking offence

S.1 Slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour
(1) A person commits an offence if—
(a) the person holds another person in slavery or servitude and the
circumstances are such that the person knows or ought to know that the
other person is held in slavery or servitude, or
(b) the person requires another person to perform forced or compulsory
labour and the circumstances are such that the person knows or ought
to know that the other person is being required to perform forced or
compulsory labour.

(3) In determining whether a person is being held in slavery or servitude or
required to perform forced or compulsory labour, regard may be had to all the
circumstances.

(4) For example, regard may be had—
(a) to any of the person’s personal circumstances (such as the person being
a child, the person’s family relationships, and any mental or physical illness) which may make the person more vulnerable than other persons;
(b) to any work or services provided by the person, including work or services provided in circumstances which constitute exploitation within section 3(3) to (6).

Points to prove -
• Holds another person in slavery or servitude
• Knows or ought to know that the person is so held
• Requires another person to perform forced or compulsory labour
• Knows or ought to know that the person is being required to perform forced or compulsory labour.

S.2 Human trafficking

(1) A person commits an offence if the person arranges or facilitates the travel of another person (“V”) with a view to V being exploited.

(2) It is irrelevant whether V consents to the travel (whether V is an adult or a
child).

(3) A person may in particular arrange or facilitate V’s travel by recruiting V,
transporting or transferring V, harbouring or receiving V, or transferring or
exchanging control over V.

(4) A person arranges or facilitates V’s travel with a view to V being exploited only
if—
(a) the person intends to exploit V (in any part of the world) during or after
the travel, or
(b) the person knows or ought to know that another person is likely to exploit V (in any part of the world) during or after the travel.
(5) “Travel” means—
(a) arriving in, or entering, any country,
(b) departing from any country,
(c) travelling within any country.
(6) A person who is a UK national commits an offence under this section
regardless of—
(a) where the arranging or facilitating takes place, or
(b) where the travel takes place.
(7) A person who is not a UK national commits an offence under this section if—
(a) any part of the arranging or facilitating takes place in the United Kingdom, or
(b) the travel consists of arrival in or entry into, departure from, or travel within, the United Kingdom.

Points to prove

• Arranges / facilitates travel for another person
• Arrival in / entry into the United Kingdom / another country
• Intending to do anything to or
• believing that another person is likely to do something in respect of that other person after the journey and
in any part of the world which if done would have involved the commission of a relevant offence

S.3 Generic Meaning of exploitation

(1) For the purposes of section 1&2 a person is exploited only if one or more of the
following subsections apply in relation to the person.

Slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour
(1) The person is the victim of behaviour—

(a) which involves the commission of an offence under section 1, or
(b) which would involve the commission of an offence under that section
if it took place in England and Wales.

Sexual exploitation

(3) Something is done to or in respect of the person—
(a) which involves the commission of an offence under—
(i) section 1(1)(a) of the Protection of Children Act 1978 (indecent
photographs of children), or
(ii) Part 1 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (sexual offences), as it has
effect in England and Wales, or
(b) which would involve the commission of such an offence if it were done
in England and Wales.

Removal of organs etc

(4) The person is encouraged, required or expected to do anything—
(a) which involves the commission, by him or her or another person, of an
offence under section 32 or 33 of the Human Tissue Act 2004
(prohibition of commercial dealings in organs and restrictions on use of
live donors) as it has effect in England and Wales, or
(b) which would involve the commission of such an offence, by him or her
or another person, if it were done in England and Wales.

Securing services etc by force, threats or deception

(5) The person is subjected to force, threats or deception designed to induce him
or her—
(a) to provide services of any kind,
(b) to provide another person with benefits of any kind, or
(c) to enable another person to acquire benefits of any kind.

Securing services etc from children and vulnerable persons

(6) Another person uses or attempts to use the person for a purpose within
paragraph (a), (b) or (c) of subsection (5), having chosen him or her for that
purpose on the grounds that—
(a) he or she is a child, is mentally or physically ill or disabled, or has a family relationship with a particular person, and
(b) an adult, or a person without the illness, disability, or family relationship, would be likely to refuse to be used for that purpose.

Indicators of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour:
There are a number of factors which may indicate that an individual is being held in servitude or is being subjected to forced or compulsory labour. The essential elements are those of coercion or deception, which may be demonstrated in a number of ways.
The kind of behaviour that would normally of itself be evidence of coercion includes but is not limited to:
• Violence or threats of violence by the employer or the employer’s representative;
• Threats against the worker’s family;
• Threats to expose the worker to the authorities (for example because of the worker’s immigration status or offences they may have committed in the past);
• The person’s documents, such as a passport or other identification, being withheld by the employer;
• Restriction of movement;
• Debt bondage;
• Withholding of wages.


Other indicators of forced labour include but are not limited to:
• The worker being given false information about the law and their employment rights;
• Excessive working hours imposed by the employer;
• Hazardous working conditions imposed by the employer;
• Not being provided with safety equipment and clothing, and/or being charged for the provision of equipment essential to perform the work;
• Unwarranted and perhaps unexplained deductions from wages;
• The employer intentionally not paying the full tax or national insurance contributions
• Poor accommodation provided by the employer, for example accommodation that is overcrowded, is not licensed as a “House of Multiple Occupation” by Local Authorities, or does not have any necessary gas and electricity safety certificates;
• Intentionally poor or misleading information about the nature of the employment, for example about the location or nature of the work;
• The person being isolated from contact with others;
Money having been exchanged with other employers/traffickers for the person’s services in an arrangement which has not been agreed with the person concerned or which is not reflected in his payment.

S.4 Committing offence with intent to commit offence under section 2
A person commits an offence under this section if the person commits any
offence with the intention of committing an offence under section 2 (including
an offence committed by aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring an offence
under that section).

Scottish Legislation

Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010

47 Slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour

(1) A person (“A”) commits an offence if—
(a) A holds another person in slavery or servitude and the circumstances are such that A knows or ought to know that the person is so held, or
(b) A requires another person to perform forced or compulsory labour and the circumstances are such that A knows or ought to know that the person is being required to perform such labour.
(2) In subsection (1) the references to holding a person in slavery or servitude or requiring a person to perform forced or compulsory labour are to be construed in accordance with Article 4 of the Human Rights Convention (which prohibits a person from being held in slavery or servitude or being required to perform forced or compulsory labour).
(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—
(a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years, or to a fine, or to both,
(b) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both.
(4) In this section “Human Rights Convention” means the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms agreed by the Council of Europe at Rome on 4 November 1950.

Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004

(Incorporates S22 Criminal Justice & Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 changes to provisions)

S.4 Trafficking people for exploitation

(1) A person commits an offence if he arranges or facilitates the arrival in or the entry into the United Kingdom of an individual (the “passenger”) and—

(a) he intends to exploit the passenger in the United Kingdom or elsewhere, or

(b) he believes that another person is likely to exploit the passenger in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.

(2) A person commits an offence if he arranges or facilitates travel within the United Kingdom by an individual (the “passenger”) and—

(a) he intends to exploit the passenger in the United Kingdom or elsewhere, or

(b) he believes that another person is likely to exploit the passenger in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.

(3) A person commits an offence if he arranges or facilitates the departure from the United Kingdom of an individual (the “passenger”) and—

(a) he intends to exploit the passenger outside the United Kingdom, or

(b) he believes that another person is likely to exploit the passenger outside the United Kingdom.

(3A) A person to whom section 5(2) applies commits an offence if–

(a) in relation to an individual (the passenger”), he arranges or facilitates–

(i) the arrival in or the entry into a country other than the United Kingdom of the passenger,

(ii) travel by the passenger within a country other than the United Kingdom,

(iii) the departure of the passenger from a country other than the United Kingdom, and

(b) he-
(i) intends to exploit the passenger, or

(ii) believes that another person is likely to exploit the passenger (wherever the exploitation is to occur).

(4) For the purposes of this section a person is exploited if (and only if)—

(a) he is the victim of behaviour that contravenes Article 4 of the Human Rights Convention (slavery and forced labour),

(b) he is encouraged, required or expected to do anything

(i) as a result of which he or another person would commit an offence under Part 1 of the Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006 (asp 4), or under section 32 or 33 of the Human Tissue Act 2004, or –

(ii) which, were it done in Scotland, would constitute an offence mentioned in sub-paragraph (i)

(ba) he is encouraged, required or expected to do anything in connection with the removal of any part of a human body –

(i) as a result of which he or another person would commit an offence under the law of Scotland (other than an offence mentioned in paragraph (b)(i)), or

(ii) which, were it done in Scotland, would constitute an offence,

(c) he is subjected to force, threats or deception designed to induce him—

(i) to provide services of any kind,

(ii) to provide another person with benefits of any kind, or

(iii) to enable another person to acquire benefits of any kind, or

(d) another person uses or attempts to use him for any purpose within sub-paragraph (i), (ii) or (iii) of paragraph (c), having chosen him for that purpose on the grounds that-

(i) he is mentally or physically ill or disabled, he is young, or he has a family relationship with a person, and

(ii) a person without the illness, disability, youth or family relationship would be likely to refuse to be used for that purpose.

(5) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable—

(a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years, to a fine or to both, or

(b) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both.

5 Section 4: supplemental
(1) Subsections (1) to (3A) of section 4 apply to anything done in or outwith the United Kingdom.
(2) This subsection applies to—
(a) a British citizen,
(b) a British overseas territories citizen,
(c) a British National (Overseas),
(d) a British Overseas citizen,
(e) a person who is a British subject under the British Nationality Act 1981 (c. 61),
(f) a British protected person within the meaning of that Act,
(g) a person who at the time of the offence was habitually resident in Scotland, and
(h) a body incorporated under the law of a part of the United Kingdom.

(2A) A person may be prosecuted, tried and punished for any offence to which section 4 applies—

(a) in any sheriff court district in which the person is apprehended or is in custody, or
(b) in such sheriff court district as the Lord Advocate may determine,
as if the offence had been committed in that district (and the offence is, for all purposes incidental to or consequential on the trial or punishment, to be deemed to have been committed in that district).
(2B) In subsection (2A), “sheriff court district” is to be construed in accordance with section 307(1) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 (c.46) (interpretation).

(3) In section 4(4)(a) “the Human Rights Convention” means the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms agreed by the Council of Europe at Rome on 4th November 1950.

(4) Sections 25C and 25D of the Immigration Act 1971 (c. 77) (forfeiture or detention of vehicle, &c.) shall apply in relation to an offence under section 4 of this Act as they apply in relation to an offence under section 25 of that Act.

(5) At the end of section 25C(9)(b), (10)(b) and (11) of that Act add “or section 4 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004 (trafficking people for exploitation).”

(6) After paragraph 2(n) of Schedule 4 to the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 (c. 43) (offence against child) insert—

“(o) an offence under section 4 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004 (trafficking people for exploitation).”

(7) At the end of paragraph 4 of Schedule 2 to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (c. 29) (lifestyle offences: England and Wales: people trafficking) add—

“(3) An offence under section 4 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004 (exploitation).”

(8) At the end of paragraph 4 of Schedule 4 to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (lifestyle offences: Scotland: people trafficking) add “or under section 4 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004 (exploitation)”.

(9) At the end of paragraph 4 of Schedule 5 to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (lifestyle offences: Northern Ireland: people trafficking) add—

“(3) An offence under section 4 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004 (exploitation).”

(10) After paragraph 2(l) of the Schedule to the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 (S.I. 2003/417 (N.I. 4)) (offence against child) insert—

“(m) an offence under section 4 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004 (trafficking people for exploitation).”

(11) In so far as section 4 extends to England and Wales, subsection (5)(b) shall, until the commencement of section 154 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (c. 44) (increased limit on magistrates' power of imprisonment), have effect as if the reference to twelve months were a reference to six months.

(12) In so far as section 4 extends to Scotland, subsection (5)(b) shall have effect as if the reference to twelve months were a reference to six months.

(13) In so far as section 4 extends to Northern Ireland, subsection (5)(b) shall have effect as if the reference to twelve months were a reference to six months.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE (Scotland) ACT 2003

(As amended by S.46 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010)

S.22 Traffic in prostitution etc.
(1) A person commits an offence who arranges or facilitates—

(a) the arrival in or the entry into the United Kingdom of, or travel there (whether or not following such arrival or entry) by, an individual and—

(i) intends to exercise control over prostitution by the individual or to involve the individual in the making or production of obscene or indecent material; or

(ii) believes that another person is likely to exercise such control or so to involve the individual, there or elsewhere; or

(b) the departure from there of an individual and—

(i) intends to exercise such control or so to involve the individual; or

(ii) believes that another person is likely to exercise such control or so to involve the individual,.

(1A) A person to whom subsection (6) applies commits an offence if the person arranges or facilitates–

(a) the arrival in or the entry into a country (other than the United Kingdom), or travel there (whether or not following such arrival or entry) by, an individual and—

(i) intends to exercise control over prostitution by the individual or to involve the individual in the making or production of obscene or indecent material; or

(ii) believes that another person is likely to exercise such control or so to involve the individual,

there or elsewhere; or

(b) the departure from a country (other than the United Kingdom) of an individual and—

(i) intends to exercise such control or so to involve the individual; or

(ii) believes that another person is likely to exercise such control or so to involve the individual,out of the country.

(2) For the purposes of subsections (1) and (1A), a person exercises control over prostitution by an individual if the person exercises control, direction or influence over the prostitute’s movements in a way which shows that the person is aiding, abetting or compelling the prostitution.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—

(a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years, to a fine or to both; or

(b) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both.

(4) Subsections (1) and (1A) apply to anything done in or outwith the United Kingdom

(5) A person may be prosecuted, tried and punished for any offence to which this section applies—

(a) in any sheriff court district in which the person is apprehended or is in custody, or

(b) in such sheriff court district as the Lord Advocate may determine,

as if the offence had been committed in that district (and the offence is, for all purposes incidental to or consequential on trial or punishment, to be deemed to have been committed in that district).

(6) This subsection applies to—
(a) a British citizen;
(b) a British overseas territories citizen;
(c) a British National (Overseas);
(d) a British Overseas citizen;
(e) a person who is a British subject under the British Nationality Act 1981 (c. 61);
(f) a British protected person within the meaning of that Act;
(g) a person who at the time of the offence was habitually resident in Scotland, and
(h) a body incorporated under the law of a part of the United Kingdom.

(7) In this section, “material” has the same meaning as in section 51 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (c. 45) and includes a pseudo-photograph within the meaning of section 52 of that Act, a copy of a pseudo-photograph and data stored on a computer disc or by any other electronic means which is capable of conversion into a photograph or pseudo-photograph.

Section 99 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing ( Scotland) Act 2010

Closure of premises associated with or used for the commission of exploitation offences.

Section 99 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing ( Scotland) Act 2010 amends the Antisocial Behavior etc. (Scotland) Act 2004 to provide a new set of circumstances where notices and orders may be invoked for the closure of premises associated with or used for the commission of exploitation offences. For the purposes of these closure powers a list of exploitation offences is contained in the provisions (and detailed below). Whilst most of these relate to sexual exploitation, premises used for certain immigration offences such as the falsification of documents, the housing of victims of trafficking and to house individuals being exploited by way of forced or compulsory labour, slavery and servitude are also be covered. An order making power is also included to allow Scottish Ministers to add to or modify the offences listed.

40A Exploitation offences

(1) In this Part, an “exploitation offence” is any of the following offences—

(a) so far as concerning travel or identity documentation for enabling the trafficking of people (including passports, visas and work permits)—

(i) fraud, or
(ii) uttering a forged document,

(b) so far as concerning the trafficking of people, an offence under section 26(1)(d) of the Immigration Act 1971 (c.77) (falsification of documentation),

(c) an offence under section 52 or 52A of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (c.45) (possession, taking or distribution of indecent images of children),

(d) an offence under sections 7 to 12 or 13(9) of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 (c.39) (offences relating to prostitution and brothels),

(e) an offence under section 22 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 (asp 7) (traffic in prostitution etc.),

(f) an offence under section 1 of the Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005 (asp 9) (meeting a child following certain preliminary contact),

(g) an offence under sections 9 to 12 of that Act (offences relating to provision by child of sexual services or child pornography),

(h) an offence under section 4 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004 (c.19) (trafficking people for exploitation),

(i) an offence under Part 1 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 (asp 9) (rape etc.),

(j) an offence under Part 4 of that Act (sexual offences involving children) other than an offence under section 37 (older children engaging in sexual conduct with each other),

(k) an offence under section 42 of that Act (sexual abuse of trust),

(l) an offence under section 46 of that Act (sexual abuse of trust of a mentally disordered person),

(m) an offence under section 47 (slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour) of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 (asp 13).

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1)(a) and (b), a reference to trafficking of people is a reference to a person intentionally doing something in respect of at least one other person which involves the commission of an offence mentioned in subsection (1)(e) or (h).

(3) For the purposes of subsection (1), a reference to an offence includes a reference to—

(a) an attempt to commit an offence,

(b) incitement to commit an offence,

(c) counselling or procuring the commission of an offence,

(d) involvement art and part in an offence, and

(e) an offence as modified by section 54 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 (asp 9) (incitement to commit certain sexual acts outside the United Kingdom).

(4) The Scottish Ministers may by order add to or otherwise modify the specification of offences listed in subsection (1).
Northern Ireland

Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015

Covers the same basic legislation as the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (E&W) i.e Sections 1, 2, 3, and 4 but with nuances around other specific additional types of exploitation including sexual exploitation and forced marriage.

Share this Page: