A year on from the enactment of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA) and Prime Minister Theresa May has recently reiterated her support of the legislation with an announcement that the UK must lead the way in defeating the global problem that is modern slavery and human trafficking. Her statements followed on from the detailed report that was provided by the barrister, Caroline Haughey, who had assessed the impact of the MSA in the last twelve months and provided conclusions as to what has had an effect and what has not.
The review dealt primarily with the following key questions:
•Is there sufficient awareness of the criminal justice measures contained in the MSA?
•How well are the measures in the MSA implemented?
•Are there gaps in the provisions of the MSA?
•What recommendations are there to fill any found gaps?
‘The Modern Slavery Act has set an international benchmark to which other jurisdictions aspire’ is her conclusion and Haughey has been complimentary of the MSA and wider work which has raised awareness of slavery amongst organisations and the general public. She further noted that the number of victims being identified had increased steadily, and that the police forces recognised the cogent issue and were carrying out more police investigations and there had been more prosecutions and convictions of offences under the MSA.
However she did highlight the need for better training, better intelligence and a more structured approach to identifying, investigating, prosecuting and preventing slavery, including learning from what works and what does not stating that the training of law enforcement, investigators and prosecutors is ‘patchy and sometimes absent’.
The report did not make any reference to progress on Section 54 of the Act covering Transparency in Supply Chains (TISC) and certainly did not provide further clarification for corporates as to the ramifications for not adhering to the MSA or looking at their supply chains in a more introspective manner. However the legislation is new and as guidance from the government becomes clearer, then the MSA will continue to provide the international benchmark.
The Medaille Trust has reflected on the conclusions that have been raised by the Haughey report and in part agrees with certain of the conclusions. In the last 12 months it has seen an incredible move by law enforcement agencies to understand and tackle the increasing problem of human trafficking and slavery in the UK. To assist those law enforcement efforts the Trust has carried out the following projects:
•Managed the Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s Modern Slavery Partnership (MSP)
•Appointed a full time law enforcement Liaison Officer Produced a well-received monthly Intelligence Summary
•Provided a safe house for Cambridgeshire Police Provided input to Police training such as the Kent SIO course
•Hosted an annual law enforcement conference in Slovenia involving domestic and foreign police forces
•Participated fully in the MSPs run by Kent and Essex, Greater Manchester and Wiltshire Police.
•Provided beds for police outside of our contractual obligations to the National Referral Mechanism – for example Greater Manchester, Wiltshire, Kent, Essex, Cambridgeshire Hampshire and the Metropolitan Police services amongst others
•Supported police operations and reception centres when requested for example the recent Operation GREENFISH in London.
The Medaille Trust therefore recognises that whilst there may be a need for greater cohesion in education and a more structured approach in relation to victims and perpetrators of slavery, it is confident that the foundations of tackling and enforcing this abhorrent crime are being seen and laid first-hand by the Medaille Trust.