NationalWorld figures show that the charge rate for offences relating to modern slavery is decreasing across England and Wales each year since the law was passed in 2015.
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 was introduced in an effort to crack down on people traffickers following a growing awareness of modern slavery and serious exploitation.
The Act allows judges to give out life sentences for common offences under the law, which include women being trafficked for sex work an fruit and vegetable pickers kept in indentured labour.
The figures show that since 2015 until Q2 of 2022-23, there has been 38,109 total crime outcomes for modern slavery offences in England and Wales, with only 1,270 of those crimes resulting in a suspect being charged.
That is a charge rate of 3.3%, with 36,839 suspects not being charged across the country.
In the North East, the rate since the law was introduced until Q2 of 2022-23 is 10.7% – making Northumbria Police the fifth highest police force in England and Wales for charge rates.
In that time frame, there has been 523 total crime outcomes, with 56 suspects being charged for modern slavery offences and 467 suspects not charged.
Despite being among the highest forces for charge rates, Northumbria Police has followed the national trend of these rates reducing each year since the law was passed.
Here is the breakdown of Northumbria Police’s charge rates for modern slavery offences:
- 2015-16: There were nine total crime outcomes, resulting in three suspects being charged, giving a charge rate of 33.3%.
- 2016-17: There were 41 total crime outcomes, resulting in 17 suspects being charged, giving a charge rate of 41.5%.
- 2017-18: There were 70 total crime outcomes, resulting in 18 suspects being charged, giving a charge rate of 25.7%.
- 2018-19: There were 75 total crime outcomes, resulting in 10 suspects being charged, giving a charge rate of 13.3%.
- 2019-20: There were 52 total crime outcomes, resulting in seven suspects being charged, giving a charge rate of 13.5%.
- 2020-21: There were 78 total crime outcomes, resulting in one suspect being charged, giving a charge rate of 1.3%.
- 2021-22: There were 129 total crime outcomes, resulting in no suspects being charged, giving a charge rate of 0%.
- 2022-23 (up to Q2): There were 69 total crime outcomes, resulting in no suspects being charged, giving a charge rate of 0%.
Andrew Wallis, chief executive of Unseen UK, a leading modern slavery charity and designated first responder organisation, told NationalWorld that modern slavery cases are “notoriously difficult” to prosecute, in part because victims are often very vulnerable and hesitant to engage with authorities.
He said: “It’s critically important that victims are engaged with properly, and when they are fully supported what we see is far more prosecutions taking place.
“We’re seeing a failure to gather essential intelligence, an increased distrust and fear of authorities, reduced identification of victims and perpetrators, and ultimately, the continued empowerment of exploiters.
“The safeguarding of victims must be prioritised and victims must be able to safely report abuse and exploitation to the authorities without fear of immigration enforcement action. Otherwise we’ll continue to see people being driven underground and into exploitation.”
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