Criminals convicted of human trafficking and modern slavery face being sentenced to life in prison from today (Friday 31 July).
Today, the new Modern Slavery Act comes into force.
The first series of measures, focused on criminal justice provisions, to come into force include:
ensuring that those who commit these crimes are subject to the toughest possible asset recovery regime.
introducing Slavery and Trafficking Reparation orders, which encourage the courts to use seized assets to compensate victims.
the commencement of regional pilots of the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) – the system used across Government and by various agencies to refer, protect and support victims of modern slavery.
Karen Bradley, Home Office Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation, said:
Today the new, consolidated and improved slavery and trafficking offences commence, ensuring that perpetrators receive the severe sentences their crimes deserve, including life imprisonment.
This landmark legislation sends the strongest possible message to criminals - if you are involved in this vile trade you will be arrested, you will be prosecuted and you will be locked up.
We are standing up for the most vulnerable in society and it also says to victims that you are not alone – we are here to help you.
Earlier this week the Prime Minister announced that, following consultation, additional provisions that address the prevention of slavery in supply chains will come into force in October.
The turnover threshold for businesses who must declare what steps they are taking to tackle modern slavery has been set at £36m.
Additional provisions of the Act which further address support for victims will be introduced later this year.