Committing offence with intent to commit a human trafficking offence

Modern Slavery Act 2015, s.4

Triable only on indictment (if kidnapping or false imprisonment committed), otherwise triable either way

Maximum: Life imprisonment (if kidnapping or false imprisonment committed), otherwise 10 years’ custody

User guide for this offence

Guideline users should be aware that the Equal Treatment Bench Book covers important aspects of fair treatment and disparity of outcomes for different groups in the criminal justice system. It provides guidance which sentencers are encouraged to take into account wherever applicable, to ensure that there is fairness for all involved in court proceedings.


In accordance with section 120 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, the Sentencing Council issues this definitive guideline. It applies to all offenders aged 18 and older, who are sentenced on or after the effective date of this guideline, regardless of the date of the offence.*

Section 59(1) of the Sentencing Code provides that:

“Every court –

  1. must, in sentencing an offender, follow any sentencing guidelines which are relevant to the offender’s case, and
  2. must, in exercising any other function relating to the sentencing of offenders, follow any sentencing guidelines which are relevant to the exercise of the function,

unless the court is satisfied that it would be contrary to the interests of justice to do so.”

This guideline applies only to offenders aged 18 and older. General principles to be considered in the sentencing of children and young people are in the Sentencing Council definitive guideline, Overarching Principles – Sentencing Children and Young People.

*The maximum sentence that applies to an offence is the maximum that applied at the date of the offence.

The starting point and range should be commensurate with that for the preliminary offence actually committed but with an enhancement to reflect the intention to commit a human trafficking offence. The enhancement will vary depending on the nature and seriousness of the intended trafficking offence, the seriousness of the preliminary offence, and the extent to which the offender was themselves the victim of modern slavery, pressure, coercion or intimidation, but up to 2 years’ custody is suggested as a suitable enhancement. Sentencers should also take into account the totality of offending (see the Totality guideline) in particular where the preliminary offence or other modern slavery offences are to be sentenced alongside the section 4 offence.