Search Legislation

Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015

Part 1

Sections 1 to 4 establish new offences of human trafficking and slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour.  The principle aim of these sections is to simplify the legislative framework to make it easier for investigators and prosecutors to bring cases against perpetrators.  They replace the former offences of human trafficking (under sections 57 to 59 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and section 4 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004) and of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour (under section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009) which are subsequently repealed.  Together these sections:

  • introduce a new offence of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour which is triable on indictment only;

  • introduce a new consolidated offence of human trafficking which is also triable on indictment only;

  • define what constitutes exploitation, for the purposes of an offence of human trafficking; and

  • introduce a new preparatory offence, of committing an offence with intent to commit a human trafficking or slavery-like offence.

Sections 5 to 7 make provision in relation to the sentencing of offenders convicted of an offence under sections 1 and 2 and will enhance the range of sentencing options available to the courts.  Section 5 specifies the new offences as serious offences under Schedule 1 to the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2008 and as violent or sexual offences under Schedule 2 to that Order (as appropriate). This will allow the courts to hand down life sentences, indeterminate custodial sentences and extended custodial offences.  Section 6 sets out a range of aggravating factors which the courts must consider when passing a sentence for an offence of human trafficking or slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour.  Section 7 sets out that the courts must sentence adult offenders, who have been convicted of an offence of human trafficking or of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour, to a minimum of two years in prison, unless exceptional circumstances apply.

Sections 8 to 10 make provision for a range of orders that courts could impose upon conviction for a human trafficking or slavery-like offence.  Section 8 amends the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 insofar as it relates to Northern Ireland to specify human trafficking and slavery-like offences as “criminal lifestyle offences”.  This will improve the court’s ability to order the confiscation of criminal assets and so help to undermine the economic motivation that fuels the exploitation of people.  Section 9 introduces Schedule 1 to the Act and makes provision for the forfeiture of a vehicle, ship or aircraft used, or intended for use, in connection with a human trafficking or slavery-like offence.  Section 10 introduces Schedule 2 to the Act and makes provision for courts in Northern Ireland to order perpetrators of human trafficking or slavery-like offences to pay compensation to their victims.

Sections 11 to 14 make provision in respect of prevention and enforcement relating to human trafficking and slavery-like offences.  Section 11 makes provision for the introduction of Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Orders, under Schedule 3 to the Act, which would enable courts to restrict the behaviour of any individual convicted of a human trafficking or slavery like offence where it is considered necessary.   Section 12 requires the Department of Justice to publish an annual strategy to tackle human trafficking and slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour.  Section 13 is intended to enhance our understanding of the scale and nature of human trafficking and slavery-type practices in Northern Ireland by placing a duty on specified public authorities to notify the National Crime Agency of any suspected victims of these offences.  Section 14 makes clear that the investigation and prosecution of relevant offences is not contingent upon a report by a victim or their co-operation in criminal proceedings.

Back to top


Print Options


Explanatory Notes

Text created by the Northern Ireland Assembly department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes accompany all Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly.


More Resources

Access essential accompanying documents and information for this legislation item from this tab. Dependent on the legislation item being viewed this may include:

  • the original print PDF of the as enacted version that was used for the print copy
  • lists of changes made by and/or affecting this legislation item
  • confers power and blanket amendment details
  • all formats of all associated documents
  • correction slips
  • links to related legislation and further information resources