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A guide to Northern Ireland’s Human Trafficking and Exploitation Act 2015 - Chapter 1

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1. Existing Criminal Offences prior to the introduction of the Act

Prior to the introduction of the Act there were a number of different legislative sources of the criminal offences relating to slavery, human trafficking and forced labour in Northern Ireland:

  • Coroners and Justice Act 2009, section 71 – provided for the offence of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour with a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment on indictment or 6 months imprisonment and/or £5000 fine if tried summarily.
  • Sexual Offences Act 2003, sections 57-59 – provided for the offences of trafficking human beings into, within, outside or out of the UK for sexual exploitation. These offences were triable on indictment only from April 2013. The maximum sentence for offences under these provisions was 14 years imprisonment (the offences were also serious as well as specified offences under the Criminal Justice (NI) Order 2008)[1]
  • Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004 section 4 – provided for the offence of trafficking people for exploitation. The offence was triable on indictment only from April 2013. The maximum sentence for the offence was 14 years imprisonment (the offence was also a serious, as well as a specified offence under Criminal Justice (NI) Order 2008).
  • The Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008 section 64A – provided for the offence of paying for sexual service of a prostitute subjected to force. The offence was triable summarily only, with a maximum sentence of a Level 3 fine on the standard scale (£1,000).


[1] See R -v- Matyas Pis [2012] NICC 14 for example of sentencing under s57 of the Sexual Offences Act and R -v- Chen, Dempsey and Hinton [2012] NICC 26 for sentencing under section 58


© Law Centre (NI) 2017

Disclaimer - Although every effort is made to ensure the information in Law Centre publications is accurate, we cannot be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences. The information should not be treated as a complete and authoritative statement of the law.

Law Centre (NI) only operates within Northern Ireland and the information in this document is only relevant to Northern Ireland law.

When reading Law Centre documents, please pay attention to their date of publication as legislation may have changed since they were published.

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