UK Home Office releases new statutory guidance on the Modern Slavery Act 2015

The Home Office has this week published statutory guidance under section 49(1) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. The guidance covers indicators of trafficking, support, and the decision making process. The statutory guidance will replace a number of existing documents, namely:

  • Guidance: Duty to Notify the Home Office of potential victim of modern slavery
  • Victims of modern slavery: frontline staff guidance
  • Victims of modern slavery: competent authority guidance
  • Multi-Agency Assurance Panels Guidance


The guidance also provides clear and practical explanations on the fundamental definitions of human trafficking and modern slavery under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, providing examples of actions, means employed by offenders, and different forms of exploitation victims may be subjected to, whilst also including a section dispelling commonly held myths about human trafficking and modern slavery; for example, for human trafficking to occur an international border must be crossed. The guidance also provides important information on the distinction between human trafficking and human smuggling (also termed ‘people smuggling), listing a range of factors that might be used to identify the distinctions. More complex cases, surrounding issues such as forced marriages, potential ‘sham’ marriages, and illegal adoption are discussed in the guidance, which indicates how these issues may relate to human trafficking and modern slavery, but also how they may operate as distinct and independent offences.

A link to the full guidance can be found here.

Forced Marriage Remains Prevalent Globally

The Walk Free Foundation has released a report showing recent analysis of forced marriage globally. Victims of forced marriage, many being children and most often women, may undergo similar conditions to slavery. They are acutely vulnerable to sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, and other forms of forced labour.
The numbers are significant, showing ‘‘in 2016, an estimated 15.4 million people, or two in every 1,000 people, were living in a forced marriage. This includes marriages of both adults and children that were reported by the survey respondent to have been forced and without consent, regardless of the age of the respondent.
Being the most vulnerable targets, 84 percent of the total victims are women, and 34 percent of total victims younger than 18. All continents display cases of forced marriage, however highest known rates are in Africa, followed by Asia and the Pacific. The reasons for forced marriage are complex and cultural context specific, and are entrenched in gendered, cultural and religious beliefs where value is only assigned to women as wives, mothers and caretakers. Solutions to end forced marriage require legal change as well as a normative and systematic social shift by understanding and challenging the drivers of it.

See full report on Forced Marriage by the Walk Free Foundation.