The UK may soon see the very first Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Orders issued after a family were jailed recently for enslaving women and forcing them to work as prostitutes.
In an appalling tale of modern slavery, the family of four from Bolton kept two Hungarian women as slaves and forced them to hand over any money they earned from prostitution. Police rescued the women in March and, at Bolton Crown Court last week, Ferenc Dardai, his partner Melania Kiraly and their two sons were given prison sentences ranging from three to six years.
The court heard how the Dardai family kept the women enslaved in poverty and forced them to work whenever clients called up wanting sex. The family would frequently starve the women, beat them and spend their earnings in casinos.
One victim was strangled for "not smiling enough for clients."
Modern Slavery in the UK
In the UK, slavery and forced labour is expressly prohibited under Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights, incorporated into UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998.
In the case of the Dardai family, the judge at Bolton Crown Court adjourned an application for a Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Order, expected to be the first issued in the UK since the Modern Slavery Act was introduced earlier this year.
Any kind of slavery or trafficking in today’s society is absolutely abhorrent and the Modern Slavery Act sets out to protect victims and ensure that justice is done against perpetrators.
Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Orders
Under the Modern Slavery Act, Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Orders (SPTOs) aim to protect people at risk from harm by preventing slavery and human trafficking offences being committed by someone who has already committed such an offence.
SPTOs can be made by a court either upon conviction of an offender or upon application by the police, immigration services or the National Crime Agency when an offender behaves in such a way that suggests he or she might commit a slavery or human trafficking offence.
Sadly, modern slavery is a growing problem in the UK with the National Crime Agency reporting a 22% increase in potential victims from 2012 to 2013. It’s certainly worrying that such appalling crimes can happen right under our noses, behind the curtains and closed doors of ordinary houses in towns and cities up and down the country.
I look forward to the introduction of the first SPTO and hope that the Modern Slavery Act lives up to its promise by protecting victims and keeping them safe from something that has absolutely no place in today’s society.
Kim Harrison is Slater and Gordon’s National Practice Development Leader for Human Rights.