When the new Modern Slavery Act came into force back in March this year it brought with it the first glimmer of hope in some time for the victims of modern day slavery. It became a vital tool in which to fight with, making sure those carrying out the crimes received suitably severe punishments. But crucially for the victims it brought support and protection for the first time.

It’s horrific to think that the practice of slavery didn’t die out in the 19th century.  Indeed, if anything, it’s more prevalent than ever in 2015.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) around 21 million men, women and children around the world are in a form of slavery.

From women forced into prostitution, children and adults forced to work in agriculture, domestic work or factories and sweatshops producing goods for global supply chains, entire families forced to work for nothing to pay off generational debts; or girls forced to marry older men, the illegal practice still blights the contemporary world.

There are many different characteristics that distinguish slavery from other human rights violations such as being forced to work, being owned or controlled by an ’employer’, being dehumanised or treated as a commodity, or indeed bought and sold as ‘property’, being   physically constrained or restrictions placed on that person’s his/her freedom of movement.

Modern day slavery does not discriminate – everyone is a potential victim and that is what needs to be stopped.

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 has brought clarity for those in the care sector who knew that it existed but there were not powers of jurisdiction to support the necessary action. The new guidance has set out actions for healthcare staff who suspect that their patient may be a victim of human trafficking. It is a reassuring presence for those in healthcare settings, including A&E, primary care, sexual health services and genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinics.

March this year was undoubtedly a turning point in the fight against modern slavery but the boundaries needed firming up and a plan to rid modern society of these hideous crimes became ever more prevalent and so in July Statutory Guidance and forms for practitioners about Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Orders and Slavery and Trafficking Risk Orders- July 2015 were introduced.

Part 2 of the ‘Act, they brought in two new civil orders designed to prevent the harm caused by slavery and human trafficking offences: Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Orders (STPOs) and Slavery and Trafficking Risk Orders (STROs).

The police, the National Crime Agency and immigration officers are now able to apply to court for these orders, which allow the courts to place a range of restrictions on the behaviour and activities of a person who poses a risk of committing slavery or trafficking offences.

The Home Office has published this statutory guidance, issued under section 33 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, as a practical tool intended to help those responsible for applying for STPOs and STROs carry out their responsibilities effectively and appropriately.

The system now has real structure to it. It offers information for carers so know what they can do, protection for victims and what the Act hopes do most is deter and  legally hold account and criminalise perpetrators of modern slavery.

Slavery has no place in the world and with clarity and the authority to act, those in the know can help stop this cruel practice and make the world safer for all.

Modern Slavery Act 2015: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/30/contents/enacted

Guidance for practitioners: Statutory Guidance and forms for practitioners about Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Orders and Slavery and Trafficking Risk Orders- July 2015

Supporting the victims of modern slavery: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/identifying-and-supporting-victims-of-human-trafficking-guidance-for-health-staff

International Labour Organisation: http://www.ilo.org/public/english/

National Crime Agency: http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/

*With the dawn of social media, and its ability to make or break an individual or organisation on the strength of a tweet or share, comes renewed hope and vigour for all those tirelessly campaign for a stop to what some cultures consider acceptable behaviour when in fact it’s downright abhorrent.

Examples of Facebook campaigns: http://www.ilo.org/public/english/; https://www.facebook.com/search/str/the%20freedom%20hub/keywords_top;