Tougher Prison Sentences Introduced for Trafficking and Slavery in the UK

By Simon Veazey
Simon Veazey
Simon Veazey
Freelance Reporter
Simon Veazey is a UK-based journalist who has reported for The Epoch Times since 2006 on various beats, from in-depth coverage of British and European politics to web-based writing on breaking news.
August 12, 2021 Updated: August 12, 2021

Gang leaders involved in trafficking people face prison sentences on a par with rape and murder, under new UK sentencing guidelines that will start in October.

The guidance—the first to cover the relatively new category of modern slavery offences—recommends a “starting point” of 14 years in jail for trafficking bosses.

Sentences can reach a maximum of 18 years.

Research suggests that the majority of sentences meted out under previous legislation for a similar category of offences were well under 10 years.

Sentencing Council member, Rosina Cottage QC, said in a statement, “Modern slavery targets vulnerable people who are exploited for financial gain by the offenders and can cause serious physical and psychological harm.”

Judges are asked to use leniency for sentencing of those involved in trafficking or slavery who are themselves victims.

The new guidance comes as illegal migrant crossings over the English Channel continue to surge beyond previous levels.

Just three years ago, Channel crossings were only a tiny fraction of illegal immigration.

Already this year over 11,000 people have made the crossing from France on what are typically small inflatable boats.

A total of 8,417 made the journey in the whole of last year—four times the number for 2019.

In 2018, just 299 people made the crossing, according to Home Office figures.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has vowed to make crossing what is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes “unviable” for the smugglers and immigrants.

The government recently introduced the Nationality and Borders Bill, which is currently making its way through parliament, aimed at revamping the “broken” immigration system.

The government claims it will provide better support for those in genuine need of asylum, while at the same time weeding out bogus claims, as well as deterring illegal immigration.

The proposed law would raise the penalty for illegal entry from six months to four years imprisonment, and mete out life sentences for trafficking.

There is a lack of precise information on levels of what might be categorized as illegal immigration into the UK, in part because the definition of “illegal” immigration is hard to pin down and is subject to different interpretations and uses.

A report by the London School of Economics in 2007 (pdf) estimated the number of “irregular” migrants living in the UK was 533,000—a little under 1 percent of the population.

According to the Home Office, last year, when migration dropped due to pandemic restrictions, “known illegal entry” was around 16,000 people .

Simon Veazey
Simon Veazey
Freelance Reporter
Simon Veazey is a UK-based journalist who has reported for The Epoch Times since 2006 on various beats, from in-depth coverage of British and European politics to web-based writing on breaking news.