Forced criminality poses an ongoing issue for those working in the human trafficking and modern slavery sector. It has no universally accepted definition and current data collection mechanisms do not have the capacity to recount the scale and characterisations of forced criminality. The perpetrators of forced criminality in its various forms of exploitation are intentionally creating new methods in order to escape the system and increase their profit. This means cases of forced criminality are not always clear and may range from minor to major offences, making it difficult for authorities to classify and deal with appropriately. The UK has low conviction rates of trafficking offences, owed to the recurring cycle of trafficking – criminalisation – prosecution of victims. By criminalising victims, rather than protecting them, they are less likely to provide evidence about their trafficking and exploitation. In cases of forced criminality early victim identification is key.
The Law Society Practice Note on Criminal prosecution of victims of trafficking is aimed at dealing with cases where victims of trafficking have been coerced to commit the crime by their traffickers. It provides lists of common human trafficking indicators and outlines important provisions in international and UK modern slavery law.