Forced labour involves victims being compelled to work very long hours, often in arduous conditions, and to hand over the majority if not all of their wages to their traffickers.
Forced labour crucially implies the use of coercion and lack of freedom or choice for the victim. In many cases victims are subjected to verbal threats or violence to achieve compliance.
Forced labour includes forced criminality. That means making people commit crime from begging, stealing and being a ‘gardener’ in a cannabis farm.
Manufacturing, entertainment, travel, farming and construction industries throughout the world have been found to use forced labour by victims of human trafficking to some extent, with a marked increase in reported numbers in recent years. Often large numbers of individuals are housed in single dwellings and there is evidence of ‘hot bunking’, where a returning shift takes up the sleeping accommodation of those starting the next shift.
The International Labour Organisation [ILO] has identified six elements which individually or collectively can indicate forced labour.
- threats or actual physical harm;
- restriction of movement and confinement to the workplace or to a limited area;
- withholding of wages or excessive wage reductions that violate previously made agreements;
- retention of passports and identity documents (the workers can neither leave nor prove their identity status); and,
- threat of denunciation to the authorities where the worker is of illegal status.
Included in forced labour is trafficking for the purposes of criminal activity or exploitation. Put simply this is one of the fastest growing areas of child trafficking and human trafficking in general. Child Criminal Exploitation or CCE is on the rise both internationally and domestically. From Romanian children trafficked to beg and steal on the streets of the UK to vulnerable children in our inner cities recruited and exploited in “County Lines” drug dealing operations.
This form of criminality was outlawed by the EU Directive 36/2011 and now in the UK in the Modern Slavery Act 2015. We are experts in this field and can assist both the police in r3ecognising this phenomenon and also criminal and immigration legal practitioners defending victim’s rights.