Modern slavery, human trafficking and forced labour offences are very prevalent across society. They often involve highly complex and sophisticated organised crime groups which can be extremely difficult to detect. Arrests for these types of offences often result from targeted police operations.
The impact of these offences on the true victims is obviously quite significant. Because of that, the sentences which are imposed after conviction can be severe.
Released under investigation for modern slavery offence
Given the complexity of such investigations, it is not uncommon for individuals arrested for such offences to be released under investigation after interview. This means that suspects are released from the police station whist the investigation continues. Mobile phones are other electronic devices are frequently seized and will need to be interrogated. That can take months to undertake. When a suspect is released under investigation, the police investigation will continue, as will the ongoing need for legal advice and assistance.
If you have been released under investigation for any of this type of offence, you really ought to instruct lawyers immediately. All sorts of issues may arise which require legal advice to be given. Suspects will want to know if items of personal property can be returned. Some of these may have nothing to do with the police investigation and so really should be returned. Advice may be needed on whether to hand over to the police a mobile phone pin, or a password to another electronic device.
Furthermore, it is not uncommon for the police to arrest completely innocent individuals during a police raid of a property or address. The police will assume that anyone who is present at an address of a raid is guilty. Trying to convince the police that you were present quite innocently can be difficult, but by no means impossible. This is why it is important to get immediate and effective representation.
Wells Burcombe Solicitors cannot emphasis enough how serious the courts treat modern slavery, human trafficking or forced labour offences. Wells Burcombe has extensive experience of defending the most complex and serious criminal cases, including those under the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
Offences under the Modern Slavery Act 2015
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 was introduced in an effort to tackle slavery and human trafficking. The Act consolidated previous legislation as well as introducing new measures. Offences under the Modern Slavery Act include:
- slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour;
- human trafficking;
- criminal exploitation;
- sexual exploitation; and
- domestic servitude.
Offences of human trafficking or modern slavery may be committed in multiple ways. These can include receiving or transferring a trafficked individual, or recruiting / facilitating the recruitment of an individual into forced labour. It is therefore unusual for a case of modern slavery or human trafficking to revolve around a single accused. It is far more likely that there will be a network of individuals involved, or even whole organisations.
Consequences of being convicted under the Modern Slavery Act
The consequences of a conviction for a modern slavery offence or series of offences can be severe, and lengthy periods of imprisonment are often imposed.
Offences under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 can overlap with other offences such as blackmail, false imprisonment, fraud or assault, depending on the circumstances of the case. Each of those offences has different factual and legal complexities. Obtaining legal advice may be the only way to fully understand why you have been arrested and what may or may not happen moving forward. There may be some very important decisions to make which, with legal advice from one of Wells Burcombe’s experienced team, really can make the difference between being charged and convicted and not being charged at all.
If convicted, you could also be made the subject of a ‘Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Order’, which places specific restrictions on the individual, such as prohibiting foreign travel, with the purpose of preventing any further modern slavery offences.
In addition, if convicted of a modern slavery offence, you may find yourself subject to Proceeds of Crime proceedings. These require an offender to pay back profits made from their crimes.
Knowledge of the offence
Of the many key elements that any prosecution would have to prove, proving that a defendant has ‘knowledge’ is one of the most important. The Modern Slavery Act sets out that an accused must ‘know or ought to know’ that the other person is being held in slavery or servitude. Or, that they know or ought to know’ that the person is being exploited during or after travel. For example, they are being required to perform forced or compulsory labour.
Trying to establish ‘knowledge’ on the part of a suspect can prove to be difficult. The police may try and infer ‘knowledge’ from the circumstances of the case, but in fact that may be way short of what, in law, would be required to prove a case.
Interviewed by the police for a modern slavery offence?
Remember, you have a right to free legal representation at a police interview. You are not obliged to answer any questions asked by the police and you should take legal advice before doing so. Deciding whether to answer questions or not in a police interview is a decision best based upon the benefit of legal advice. If you have already been interviewed, and you have been released under investigation, then you may be interviewed again at some point in the future. Contact David Wells, Senior Partner, at Wells Burcombe’s criminal defence team today on 01727 8400, or directly on 07939026751. Alternatively email David.email@example.com or contact us via our contact page.