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Modern Slavery Act came into force

Staff Writer | September 14, 2016
New UK government plans to tackle substandard working conditions at sea by enforcing the provisions of the Modern Slavery Act came into force on August 8.
Sarah Newton
Working conditions   Law enforcement officers will also be empowered to intercept vessels
Home Office minister Sarah Newton said the new powers will enable officers from the police, the Border Force and the National Crime Agency to board and search vessels in cases where modern slavery is suspected of taking pace.

Law enforcement officers will also be empowered to intercept vessels, seize evidence and arrest offenders, and rescue victims from ships in UK waters. Offenders could face life imprisonment if found guilty of charges under the Act.

The government said it had identified 37 potential victims of modern slavery who reported exploitation in the maritime industry between 2013 and 2014.

Maritime trade union, Nautilus International, says it has given a guarded welcome to the plans.

General secretary Mark Dickinson said, “It’s good to see that the government has recognised that the problem exists. Too often, the exploitation of seafarers and fishers exists out of sight and out of mind of the authorities.

“It is essential that the government commits real resources to support the enforcement of the law. We’ve seen the struggle to get effective policing of the National Minimum Wage and work permit regulations in the maritime sector, and we need more than warm words if such injustices identified by the government are to be properly dealt with.”