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Almost £700,000 recovered from family convicted of slavery, as new law comes into force

31/07/2015

The CPS has recovered almost £700,000 from William, Brida, James and Johnny Connors, who were convicted along with another member of their family in December 2012 of slavery-related offences. The defendants beat their victims and forced them to work for as little as £5 a day, and were found guilty of conspiracy to require a person to carry out forced or compulsory labour. The assets recovered include a red convertible Mini, a caravan park and a Yacht Master steel watch. We are also awaiting payments from assets including houses, land and a VIP caravan.

This prosecution and asset recovery work are brought using existing legislation, however the CPS expects the Modern Slavery Act 2015, which comes into force today, to further strengthen such cases. The Act not only clarifies the law regarding the prosecution of these crimes, but also extends asset recovery and introduces reparation orders to confiscate assets from those convicted, and in many cases given directly back to the victims.

Nick Price, Head of CPS Proceeds of Crime said, "Close to three quarters of a million pounds has been recouped in this case and we expect to reclaim even more. This follows the successful prosecution of the Connors for slavery-related offences. The defendants' lifestyles were markedly different to those they forced to work for them in punishing and gruelling conditions.

"Modern slavery is a cruel, selfish crime. The introduction of this Act is a positive step in the road to ensuring that not only those directly involved in the crime, but also those who assist it, are held to account.

"We have been working hard to ensure that our prosecutors and the police are trained and informed about these changes. It is vital that we build strong, creative cases and work closely with police from an early stage to build a prosecution. It is hoped that the new Act will provide opportunities for us to support and prosecute more of these cases."

The Solicitor General Robert Buckland QC MP said, "Slavery is an affront to humanity and has no place in our society.  The Modern Slavery Act 2015 is one of the first in the world to specifically address slavery and trafficking in the 21st century. These new rules give law enforcement the tools they need to target today's slave drivers and ensure that perpetrators can be severely punished."

More information:

The CPS is currently updating its legal guidance on the Modern Slavery Act 2015 for prosecutors, and has been undertaking training both with prosecutors and police to ensure that the strongest cases can be brought to the courts. We are encouraging early consultation with police so that we not only charge the right offences, but can also start to build robust cases as early as possible.

Our work with police and our guidance for prosecutors also emphasises the importance of ensuring victims of these crimes are kept engaged throughout the entire process. Often, victims are targeted for these crimes because of their extreme vulnerabilities (e.g. learning or physical disabilities), so prosecutors are encouraged to use special measures, and be inventive in doing so, wherever they can. This could include live link evidence or identification, and it is particularly important that we strengthen our relationships with prosecutors and police from different countries to ensure that this can take place, whatever the circumstances of the case.

The CPS has a network of specialist prosecutors who work with priority countries to assist delivery of criminal investigations, prosecutions and develop the rule of law.  They also help to develop the law in this area. This network is an important resource for criminal justice agencies, providing casework assistance to improve prosecutions across a range of serious crime threats. We continue to work with Government colleagues and partners, including the Anti-Slavery Commissioner, to tackle obstructions to international investigations and casework and also to identify the 'priority' countries for trafficking and modern slavery where we should focus particular effort.

Confiscation Orders and amounts paid:

Johnny Connors - size of order: £305,480.83  Balance outstanding: £275,311.26
William Connors - Order: £1,674,912.38  Balance outstanding: £1,279,850.91
Brida Connors - Order: £139,175.24  Balance outstanding: £0.00
James Connors - Order: £135,000. Balance outstanding: £0.00

Ends

Notes to Editors

  1. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  2. The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are three national casework divisions: Specialist Fraud (formerly Central Fraud and Welfare, Rural & Health Divisions), Special Crime & Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime. CPS Direct is a 'virtual' 14th Area which provides charging decisions to all police forces and other investigators across England and Wales - it operates twenty-four hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
  3. At 31 March 2014 we employed a workforce of approximately 6237 staff (full time equivalent), including around 2226 prosecutors and 3629 caseworkers and administrators. Further information can be found on our website:  www.cps.gov.uk.
  4. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.