Victims of human trafficking (VOTs) and slavery charged with criminal offences
Ben Douglas-Jones QC appeared in R v HHD (Court of Appeal: Gross LJ; Cutts J and His Honour Judge Lucraft QC (sitting as a Judge of the CACD) in which the court endorsed 4 issues to be highlighted in cases where victims of human trafficking (VOTs) and slavery are charged with criminal offences. The case was referred to the Senior Presiding Judge because of its importance:
- The latest version of CPS Guidance November 2018 includes a 4-stage test, which requires prosecutors to consider s.45, Modern Slavery Act 2015 at the evidential stage of the Full Code Test. If there is insufficient evidence, having considered it, prosecutors should not charge or should discontinue on evidential grounds. The CPS Guidance [re public interest] applies to all cases where statutory defence is not available
- It is not necessary for there to be movement when someone is a VOT: practitioners should consider the definition of trafficking in Art 2 of Directive 2011/36/EU.
- It is important that VOTs are identified as such before Court proceedings if possible. CPS guidance requires that a request be made that a plea is not formally entered where indicators are present. All should be alive to indicators published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Human Trafficking and United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Trafficking. Should the issue be raised at 1st hearing judge should consider whether there is credible evidence of trafficking. If so he should adjourn for the NRM procedure to be followed. It should take 45 days [between RG and CG decision]. In practice it may take longer. In such cases Better Case Management will not apply and stage dates will need to be amended. Courts will need to be astute to avoid unmeritorious assertions that the a defendant is a VOT. This Judgment will be sent to the Senior Presiding Judge.
- All concerned should be alive to trafficking in a number of situations, such as debt bondage.