Can You Spot Modern Slavery?

Modern Slavery

Many believe slavery to be a thing of the past, yet it still exists today in many forms throughout modern society. By definition, modern slavery is the exploitation of other people for personal or commercial gain. Even in countries like the UK, modern slavery is a prevalent issue because it can be hidden or misunderstood by businesses and workers alike.

Modern Slavery Act 2015

To combat modern slavery, the UK government introduced the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to clamp down on the rising cases of modern slavery across Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The law simplified and consolidated all offences into a single act, which made it easier to identify and prosecute those who exploited others.

“The Modern Slavery Act will give law enforcement the tools to fight modern slavery, ensure perpetrators can receive suitably severe punishments for these appalling crimes and enhance support and protection for victims. It received Royal Assent on Thursday 26 March 2015”


After the act was introduced, an independent anti-slavery commissioner was created to improve coordination and response. It also enhanced the ability of the courts so they could put restrictions on individuals to protect people from the harm caused by modern slavery offences. A duty was also placed on the Secretary of State to produce statutory guidance on victim services and identification, so those who suffered had more support from the government.

Law enforcement was given the ability to stop boats suspected of human trafficking and slavery. Businesses of a certain size were also required to disclose what actions they take each year to ensure there is no modern slavery in their business or supply network. This meant that companies had to check that the products supplied to them weren’t a result of slavery.

Penalties for Modern Slavery

What happens if you get caught?

  1. A person guilty of an offence under section 1 or 2 is liable—
    a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for life;
    b) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or a fine or both.
  2. A person guilty of an offence under section 4 is liable (unless subsection (3) applies)—
    a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years;
    b) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or a fine or both.
  3. Where the offence under section 4 is committed by kidnapping or false imprisonment, a person guilty of that offence is liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for life.
  4. In relation to an offence committed before section 154(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 comes into force, the references in subsections (1)(b) and (2)(b) to 12 months are to be read as references to 6 months.

Corporate Responsibility

Corporate responsibility (CR) and business sustainability address the ethics of an organisation‘s activities and how it operates in a way that is viable over the long term. These two factors are linked because a business that damages the systems it depends on is unsustainable in the long term. Corporate responsibility starts by recognising the organisation’s activities have an impact on the environment, society and the economy.

There are four main groups of responsibility:

  • Community – focusing on how the organisation’s activities positively or negatively affect the general public.
  • Employees or labour – focusing on the rights and well-being of employees and other workers.
  • Environment – from recycling materials to the whole carbon footprint of the organisation.
  • Market Place – including issues such as fair trading, corporate taxes and anti-bribery.

Modern Slavery Case Study

Modern slavery is still happening in the UK today, despite us living in an economically developed nation. See the diagram below for a case study dating from 2017, and what happened as a result:

Modern Slavery Case Study

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GOV.UK (2014). Modern Slavery Act 2015. [online] GOV.UK. Available at: