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Modern Slavery Legislation

The difference between People Smuggling and Human Trafficking explained.

People Smuggling and Human Trafficking are both criminal offences. What are the differences?

People smugglingHuman Trafficking
Immigration Act 1971Modern Slavery Act 2015
People smuggling is a crime against the stateHuman trafficking is a crime against a person
People smuggling is characterised by illegal entryIn Human trafficking, a victim’s entry into a state can be legal or illegal
People smuggling requires international travelTrafficking can take place both within and across national borders
The criminality is intrinsically linked because People Smuggling can lead to Modern Slavery offences. 

Modern Slavery Act 2015

There are three principle offences under the act.

Section 1 - Holding a person in slavery or servitude or requiring a person to perform forced or compulsory labour.

Section 2 - Trafficking a person for exploitation.

These both have a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act introduced a statutory defence:

  • for adults being compelled to commit some criminal offences because of their slavery or exploitation and 
  • for children committing some criminal offences as a direct consequence of being, or having been, a victim of slavery or a victim of relevant exploitation.

This defence can only be applied to the less serious offences. A list of those to which it cannot be applied can be found here.

For a more detailed understanding of the Modern Slavery Act legislation Click here

Last Updated on March 7, 2024

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