Slavery: Victims

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 29th July 2019.

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Photo of Richard Burgon Richard Burgon Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what estimate he has made of the number of victims of modern slavery in prison.

Photo of Richard Burgon Richard Burgon Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what estimate his Department has made of the number of child victims of modern slavery in custody.

Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The Government introduced a statutory defence for victims of modern slavery (both under and over the age of 18), to protect those very vulnerable people who were previously being unfairly prosecuted for crimes they were forced to commit by their exploiters – notably cannabis cultivation. We are aware of concerns from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the police that the defence is open to abuse from opportunistic criminals who are not victims, to escape justice for their crimes. That is why my rt hon Friend the Home Secretary asked the independent review of the Modern Slavery Act to examine how the statutory defence was working in practice.

The report of the review was published in May. It found that the defence strikes the correct balance between protecting genuine victims and preventing misuse from opportunistic criminals. My rt hon Friend the Home Secretary is considering the review’s findings, and the Home Office will work closely with the CPS and law enforcement agencies to take the report’s recommendations forward. A copy of the final report of the Independent Modern Slavery Act Review can be found via the link below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/independent-review-of-the-modern-slavery-act-final-report

To determine how many people who at some point in their lives have been victims of modern slavery are currently in custody would require a search of individual records and could not be done without incurring disproportionate cost.

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