Modern Slavery Bill

Home Office written question – answered on 23rd February 2015.

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Photo of Karen Bradley Karen Bradley The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The statutory defence is an important additional protection for victims of

modern slavery who have been compelled to commit certain offences as a direct

consequence of their slavery or trafficking situation. In addition, the Crown

Prosecution Service will continue to use its discretion to not charge an

offence or discontinue a prosecution which is not required, in the public

interest.

It is imperative that the defence protects child victims of modern slavery from

being inappropriately criminalised whilst also avoiding providing complete

immunity for the most serious categories of offending. The reasonable person

test is an important safeguard in ensuring that the defence cannot be abused.

The defence for child victims has been amended in the House of Lords to remove

the requirement for compulsion and we have also tabled an amendment at Lord’s

Report of the Modern Slavery Bill to the reasonable person test for child

victims to make it easier for child victims to gain protection from the

statutory defence. This amendment will remove the reference to the child having

no realistic alternative to committing the offence and will mean that once the

defence is raised, the prosecution would have to show beyond reasonable doubt

that the child acted unreasonably in committing the offence.

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