We don’t know enough to effectively protect those who experience criminal exploitation

Dr Alicia Kidd

Lecturer in Modern Slavery

Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull

A.Kidd@hull.ac.uk

In this blog, produced for the Modern Slavery Policy and Evidence Centre [PEC], Dr Kidd looks at the defence for those who face criminal liability as a result of modern slavery under Section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

What do we know about how we protect those who experience criminal exploitation from further harm? People forced into criminal exploitation by their traffickers should be protected from the further harm of being charged for crimes they had no choice but to commit. The UK Modern Slavery Act offers protection for such cases, however, we don’t know if it’s doing its job effectively.

Criminal exploitation is a growing problem. In the UK in 2021, 6,100 people were identified as potential victims of criminal exploitation, 4,155 of whom had experienced only this form of exploitation (figures are collated from the data tables accessible via the End of Year Summary). This accounts for 48% of all potential cases of modern slavery identified in that year.

People who experience criminal exploitation inhabit an unusual position of being both a victim of modern slavery and a perpetrator of the crimes they were made to commit. This means that there can be confusion amongst professionals around how to best respond to such situations.

Section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act offers a statutory defence for those who face criminal liability for a criminal act that they committed as a consequence of their modern slavery or human trafficking experience. It was designed to reassure people that they could give evidence without fear of being convicted for offences they had committed as part of their exploitation.

For people aged 18 or over, the Act states that a person is not guilty of an offence if they were compelled to commit it, if that compulsion is attributable to their exploitative situation, and if a reasonable person in the same situation with relevant characteristics would have no realistic alternative to committing it. Children are not guilty if the criminal act was a direct consequence of their exploitation and a reasonable person in the same situation with relevant characteristics would have also committed the act.

However, even seven years after the implementation of Section 45 with the Modern Slavery Act of 2015, it is difficult to gather an accurate picture of how the defence is understood and used in practice. The Modern Slavery PEC and the Wilberforce Institute are publishing a review of how this defence has been used so far

Our review has shown that, to date, there is very limited information available on the use of Section 45. There have been two independent reviews of the Modern Slavery Act which make reference to Section 45, and one report from the Office of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner which was based on a call for evidence about Section 45 specifically. However, there is a lack of information regarding the commissioning process and methodologies of these reports.

Further, no quantitative data is collected on the use of Section 45, academic involvement in the reviews has been limited, and no one with lived experience was consulted for the reviews. These factors combined mean that producing accurate insights and robust generalisations about how Section 45 is used is impossible. We can’t currently generate a true picture of who is using the defence, what crimes they are using it for, or identify and rectify any barriers to success.

There is also a lack of legal clarity regarding how closely the offence should be connected to the modern slavery experience for the defence to be justified, with no clear definition offered within the Modern Slavery Act. Case law continues to develop and challenge how the defence should be implemented in practice. However, without adequate and consistent training for professionals, those who experience criminal exploitation could have truly differing experiences of using the defence, based entirely on the levels of knowledge that the lawyers and judges associated with their cases have on modern slavery and Section 45.

If used suitably, the statutory defence holds real potential to be able to support victims of modern slavery without punishing them for crimes they had no choice but to commit. However, much remains to be done to make sure that becomes a reality.

Based on available evidence, in order to improve both the use and understanding of Section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act, reviews of the legislation should offer clarity regarding the commissioning process and methodologies used, so that the reviews can accurately be recreated for future comparisons. They should also incorporate insights from academics working in relevant fields, and always seek the input of people with lived experience.

We need more data to be able to make informed decisions about improving Section 45. As a priority, the Government needs to collect quantitative data on the use and outcomes of the defence in order to understand the types of cases in which it is used, barriers to success, and how it might be vulnerable to misuse.

Finally, it’s clear that adequate training for police, lawyers and the judiciary is fundamental if Section 45 is to be used in the way it was intended: to serve the best interests of victims of modern slavery. This training should include insights into potential bias based on notions of the ‘ideal’ victim, so that people who were forced to commit crimes as a result of slavery or trafficking can be fully protected from further harm.

ACTion to Combat Modern Slavery: Justice Hub Our First Six Months

Andrew Smith

Manager of the Justice Hub and Coordinator of the Humber Modern Slavery Partnership

A.Smith9@hull.ac.uk

Introduction

The ACTion to Combat Modern Slavery Justice Hub is a Wilberforce Institute and University of Hull Alumni funded project that seeks to combat modern slavery by using research and knowledge exchange to engage and empower people to create a culture of change for good. Launched in October 2021 with my appointment as project manager Its mission is to use knowledge exchange, education and research to raise awareness of, and compliance with, the Modern Slavery Act 2015, ensuring it is better understood and enforced by those who have a statutory, legal or moral duty under its provisions. On Monday 28th March we published a special edition of the Wilberforce Institute Modern Slavery Newsletter to mark the anniversary of the Modern Slavery Act which became law on 26th March 2015. You can view the newsletter online here: https://universityofhullec.newsweaver.com/eo4xlasxr1/16j2gri0ubh

Our first six months

Initial work started immediately on formulating a plan to develop our online e-learning CPD modules on key provisions of the Act that will be available to a range of statutory and non-statutory stakeholders. Working with Lampada we have made good progress in putting together a template of the first three modules which comprise an introductory module, a legal enforcement module and a transparency in supply chains module. We have applied for £50,000 HEIF funding to pay for these first three modules and associated costs. Content for these modules has been written and we are commencing the build stage with a view for the first module to be ready by June to showcase at our next big event in Birmingham on 30th June 2022, and will offer a deeper insight into slavery and trafficking responses for law professionals and social care staff. The event will include a plenary session on victimology, a CPD session with guest DC Colin Ward from the Manchester Police, Op Challenger task force, then finish with an expert panel that will discuss with our audience how we connect stakeholders to improve responses and how victims navigate the criminal justice system.

On the 16th of October we held our very first A21 walk for freedom in partnership with the Freedom Festival in Hull. The A21 walk for freedom is a global movement of peaceful campaign walks to highlight slavery and engage the public. We used this event as a public launch of the Justice Hub in Hull. The event was well attended by over 30 staff, students and members of the public who walked a pre-planned route around famous Hull landmarks talking to the public about the issue of slavery today (www.A21.org).

A21 Walk for Freedom October 2021. Pictured in Queen’s Gardens, Hull

Our second opportunity to launch the Justice Hub came internally at the University’s knowledge exchange conference in November. Here we used the stage to introduce the Hub to our colleagues and discuss the importance of using knowledge exchange to improve responses to modern slavery and the application of the law that empowers and supports victims. We also used this opportunity to highlight the benefits of connectedness and people power in fighting for social justice. From this conference we have made multiple valuable connections within the University which has resulted in us being able to deliver a significant amount of training to many disciplines.

In our first six months we have delivered sessions on the Modern Slavery Act, globalisation and ethical trading, criminal exploitation, and social justice to

• Child nursing students

• Mental health nursing students

• Business and law students

• English students

• Education students

External to the University we have been working closely with Hull City Council on implementing a new pathway and policy for their housing department and specific training on the Act, how it applies in practice, and how to refer potential victims into the National Referral Mechanism [NRM]. Staying with Hull City Council, we are an integral part of their response to child criminal exploitation and a key panel member of their NRM child devolved decision-making panel as an expert advisor and decision maker. As part of this work, we have delivered dedicated training to child social care workers, youth justice workers and health care workers on referring and supporting child victims. Since October we have collaborated to train over 300 Hull City Council professionals. The current child devolved NRM decision-making pilot in Hull has been extended for another 12 months by the Home Office which is welcome news for professionals working to safeguard young people. As part of this extension Hull City Council has been given a budget for further training and we have been approached to help deliver this. Finally, as well as Hull City Council and University students, we have delivered a wide array of training and workshops to community groups, faith groups, youth justice and Crown Prosecution Services staff, and taken part in a national safeguarding week to deliver sessions to members of the public.

Aside from our direct training and CPD efforts we are also keen to utilise different methods of media to communicate modern slavery knowledge and grow/diversify our audiences. As such we have just aired the first of a new 7-part podcast series that takes a look at key provisions of the Modern Slavery Act. This first podcast introduces the Wilberforce Institute and the Justice Hub, gives an overview of the Act and an outline of the provisions we will be covering in subsequent episodes. You can listen to our first podcast here: https://youtu.be/wJ8Rlue6ck4

In May we will be recording a very special podcast interview on tackling difficult subjects with children with Wilberforce MA alumnus Channon Oyeniran, author of The Time Travel Adventures of Ara. In this her debut book, Channon brings Black History to life in a magical way. What starts as a simple journey turns into an extraordinary one through a series of mysterious events that finds Ara transported over a century back in time. What follows is a thrilling adventure and a mission to set enslaved people free (https://adventuresofara.com/).

In addition, we have recently become a member of the UK Modern Slavery Training and Development Group. This national group comprises leading anti-slavery sector organisations who come together to work on identifying national gaps in training and brings specialist knowledge together to deliver solutions. I believe this to be a positive move for the Justice Hub that will allow us to influence UK training needs and the use of specialist knowledge to impact practice through legislation and policy.

To conclude

Finally, I am extremely pleased to be able to say that in our first 6 months of operation we have trained a total of 682 people internal and external to the University. I hope you will agree this is a fantastic way to kick off this wonderful project. It reinforces the appetite we know exists among audiences and stakeholders to improve their knowledge so they may provide better services and create lasting social change.

Modern Slavery Update

Professor Trevor Burnard

Director of the Wilberforce Institute

Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull

t.g.burnard@hull.ac.uk

Andrew Smith

Coordinator of the Humber Modern Slavery Partnership

Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull

a.smith9@hull.ac.uk

In this final blog of 2020, Trevor Burnard and Andrew Smith provide updates on recent initiatives to tackle modern slavery. First, Andrew provides an overview of practical developments in our region that aim to combat modern slavery, taken from his November newsletter.

Tackling Modern Slavery


Seven-strong purge on Modern Slavery
A unique and trail blazing approach to tackling modern day slavery is set to crank up the heat on those who exploit people through business activities and supply chains. Seven Police and Crime Commissioners and their respective Chief Constables including Humberside have worked together to develop a Modern Slavery Transparency in Supply Chains (TISC) Statement. In Humberside, the commitment by Police and Crime Commissioner Keith Hunter to fund the partnership coordinator role and support the creation of our dedicated Operation Wilberforce police team means that our Anti-Slavery efforts are now firmly part of daily business. While there is still much work to do to embed a sustainable and meaningful response in all sectors, stakeholders, partners and those who have a statutory duty to respond to modern slavery in our area have more support than ever before to meet their obligations.

Force wide strategy to tackle modern slavery – Humberside Modern Slavery Partnership Strategic Plan 2020 – 2023
To coincide with Anti-Slavery Day 2020, the Humber Modern Slavery Partnership released the first modern slavery strategy for the Humber region. This progressive move sets the tone for partnership action over the next three years in combatting this despicable crime. Spanning all four local authority areas in our region, this new, overarching strategy brings together statutory and non-statutory partners including law enforcement, academics and health and third sector professionals to give a focused and targeted approach to modern slavery and human trafficking. For more details see Andrew’s earlier blog at: https://wilberforceinstitute.uk/2020/10/26/combating-modern-slavery-in-the-humber/

Innovative new workshops will help frontline workers respond to cases of modern slavery
The University of Hull’s Wilberforce Institute has helped launch a new series of innovative resources, designed to help frontline workers respond to individual cases of modern slavery. Launched to mark Anti-Slavery day this year, the Institute, in partnership with The Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre, has announced new resources and workshops. These have been led by a team at the Institute, in collaboration with the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham, the Humber Modern Slavery Partnership and Fresca Group. The workshops provided to partnership coordinators across the country will help support the training needs among partners working in our communities. For more details see the earlier blog by Alicia Kidd, who led the project, at: https://wilberforceinstitute.uk/2020/08/13/modern-slavery-partnership-workshops/

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In the second part of this blog, Trevor Burnard introduces the launch of a major new appeal for tackling modern slavery.

ACTion to End Modern Slavery

At the University of Hull we are proud of the work carried out at the Wilberforce Institute in understanding and tackling modern day slavery. However, success has been hard won, and the uphill battle continues in the face of increased incidences of modern slavery in the UK. 

The Wilberforce Institute is therefore delighted to launch a funding drive for a major new initiative increasing knowledge about the Modern Slavery Act and its operations here in the UK.  Action is needed now.  Modern slavery and human trafficking are among the UK’s biggest criminal industries and we can only defeat them together. That’s why we’re asking for your support. This week we are launching our fundraising campaign to help the Wilberforce Institute become a hub in the fight against this evil crime. The UK government passed the Modern Slavery Act in 2015, but without additional expertise within the justice system, as well as insight and support for those working to de-criminalise victims, this legislation is too complex to be effective.

The Wilberforce Institute has the ability to play a unique role in building a collaborative network within the legal profession and beyond. With our networks, research and expertise, we can develop strategic and coordinated approaches in protecting, investigating and prosecuting, turning dry legislation into an effective tool for emancipating victims.

More information about the campaign can be found here.

Labour Exploitation in Supply Chains

Dr Alicia Kidd

Postdoctoral Researcher

Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull

alicia.kidd@hull.ac.uk

Dr Kidd is particularly interested in bridging the gap between academia and practice in relation to modern slavery and, alongside her academic post, is the Vice Chair of the Humber Modern Slavery Partnership, a position she has held since 2016. She also works with the Risk Assessment Service at the Wilberforce Institute, which supports businesses in identifying and mitigating risks of labour exploitation in supply chains. The blog below was commissioned by Crimestoppers to coincide with their recent campaign on modern slavery. We have replicated the piece here so that it can be made available to a wider audience.

Modern slavery is a term used to refer to extreme forms of exploitation including sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, domestic servitude, criminal exploitation and even organ harvesting. These crimes affect both adults and children and aren’t limited to gender or nationality. In fact, in 2019 UK nationals constituted the largest single nationality of people referred into the National Referral Mechanism – the UK government’s system for identifying and supporting victims of modern slavery.

Since the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act in 2015, many businesses have become aware of the term ‘modern slavery’, because of the requirement the Act places on businesses. Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act is the Transparency in Supply Chains clause which, in summary, requires any business which operates (at any level) in the UK with an annual turnover of £36 million or more to produce an annual modern slavery statement which is publicly accessible.

While the compliance rate fluctuates (currently around 79% of companies required to publish a statement have done so), so too does the quality of the reports, which often betray a limited understanding of the crime, how it might affect a business and how best to respond (though it must be noted that the content of the statements is not officially assessed; compliance rests entirely on whether or not a statement is published, regardless of what the statement says).

Labour exploitation is the most common form of modern slavery identified in the UK and it is important that businesses have a good working knowledge of how to protect their supply chains from it. Below are some practical steps that businesses can take to limit risk.

  1. First of all, when you begin to look for labour exploitation in your supply chain, you should expect to find it. Exploiters will always aim to be at least one step ahead and concerns may not initially be apparent. Those who are being exploited may be reluctant to come forward, so the onus is on you to identify an issue rather than relying on it being brought to your attention.
  1. While it is important for directors and management to be aware of what modern slavery is and how it presents, especially in regards to developing a high-quality modern slavery statement, they are unlikely to be the ones that come into contact with exploitation within the supply chain. Training should be targeted at the lowest level, to ensure that those who are likely to come into contact with potential victims are aware of what to look for and what they should do if they have concerns.
  1. You should create safe reporting mechanisms within your organisation so that potential victims, or those that have concerns, have somewhere to ask for support or share information. Guidance on how to report into this mechanism should be readily available to all staff. However, don’t share how you will act on intelligence, as once this information reaches an exploiter, they will find a way to work around it. Consider it a positive when concerns are raised as this means that your reporting mechanism is effective.
  1. While a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to modern slavery might seem logical, it could actually encourage rather than deter exploitation. Instead of ending a contract with a supplier you have concerns over, provide them with a list of issues they need to fix and a deadline by which these must be done. Only if that date comes and significant progress has not been made should you end the contract. To end the contract at the first concern runs the risk of allowing the exploiter to continue to operate elsewhere and potentially failing to get assistance to the people who need it.
  1. Provide all staff with information on their rights and entitlements in languages they can access.
  1. If possible, run regular informal worker interviews with all staff so that you have the chance to speak with workers individually. If this is established as standard practice then it provides the opportunity to have private conversations with staff members without raising alarm bells for exploiters. Getting to know your workers in this way is also a method of demonstrating that you are proactive about due diligence.

If you have concerns about exploitation in your supply chain, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) may be able to offer assistance. The GLAA exists to protect vulnerable and exploited workers and investigate reports of labour exploitation, human trafficking, forced labour, illegal labour provision and offences that sit under the National Minimum Wage Act and The Employment Agencies Act. You can report a concern to GLAA on 0800 432 0804.

Workers in the agricultural sector can be at high risk of exploitation and abuse