Sentencing Council: Publication of Sentencing guidelines for modern slavery offences

12 August 2021

The Sentencing Council has today published, in accordance with section 120 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, definitive guidelines to be used by the courts in England and Wales when sentencing modern slavery offences. The new guidelines will come into effect on 1 October 2021.

These are the first sentencing guidelines for offences under the Modern Slavery Act 2015. Since the provisions of that Act came into force, increasing numbers of cases have come before the courts. These can often be complex cases, involving a range of criminal activity. The Council believes it is vital the courts have clear and consistent guidelines when sentencing. The guidelines aim to promote consistency of approach in this area of sentencing, and to consolidate and explain information which will assist courts to pass appropriate sentences when dealing with offenders convicted of modern slavery offences. Critically the 2015 Act raised the maximum penalty for slavery and trafficking offences to life imprisonment and the guidelines take account of that increase.

The principal guideline we are publishing covers two main offences under the Act: offences contrary to section 1 (slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour), and section 2 (human trafficking). We also provide guidance on sentencing two further offences under the Act: section 4 (committing an offence with the intention of committing a human trafficking offence); and section 30 (breach of a slavery and trafficking risk order or slavery and trafficking prevention order).

These are available on the Sentencing Council website here. Alongside the guidelines, we have also published a response to the consultation and a resource assessment.