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Representing Victims of Modern Slavery

Speaker: Dr Laura Janes
Chambers: Howard League for Penal Reform

Dr Laura Janes (Consultant Solicitor) and Claire Sands (Research and Policy Manager) representing the Howard League for Penal Reform

Dr Laura Janes is a consultant solicitor at multiple firms, including GT Stewart Solicitors and Advocates. She is also the chair of the Legal Action Group and a visiting fellow at the London South Bank University. Laura has a particular expertise in representing vulnerable people, boasting a Doctorate in Youth Justice. Claire Sands is a Youth Justice and children’s rights researcher and policy expert, who worked for the Howard League for Penal Reform.

Here these two experts reveal the policy and research context behind child criminal exploitation in the UK. They provide practical guidance to inform lawyers about signs that their clients may be victims of criminal exploitation, and the next steps that they should take. This can include involvement in county lines, child trafficking and other forms of modern slavery affecting children. They end by outlining a case that they successfully dealt with in order to illustrate this process in practice.

Key words/topics

Modern Slavery

Vulnerable Suspects

Child Criminal Exploitation 

The Modern Slavery Defence

Appealing Convictions

County Lines

Profile of Victims


Sexual Exploitation 

Serious Risk of Harm

Mental Health




Crown Prosecution Service Guidance

Modern Slavery Act 2015

National Referral Mechanism

“Reasonable Grounds”

“Conclusive Decision”

“First Responders”

Welfare Needs

Youth Offending Service

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 

UN Palermo Protocol 2000 

The European Convention for Human Rights

CoE Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings 2009 

The European Directive on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Protecting its Victims (2011/36/EU)

More about Dr Laura Janes and Claire Sands

Dr Laura Janes also specialises in prison law, criminal appeals, mental health, public law and community care, including age assessment and civil litigation, and representing those serving life sentences.

Laura is Chair of the Legal Action Group, a Board member of the Legal Aid Practitioners’ Group, a committee member of the Association of Prison Lawyers, the Criminal Appeal Lawyers’ Association and the Mental Health Lawyers’ Association. She is a visiting fellow at South Bank University

In 2019, Laura was awarded Solicitor of the Year by the First 100 Years’ Inspirational Women in Law Awards. 

Claire Sands’ remit includes the programme to end the criminalisation of children in residential care which won the CYP Now Youth Justice Award in 2018. 

Claire worked as a freelance researcher for a number of years prior to her current role. Her publications include: ‘Child Criminal Exploitation: county lines gangs, child trafficking & modern slavery defences for children’ (Youth Justice Legal Centre, 2018); ‘The fostering system in England: Evidence review’ (Department for Education, 2017); and ‘Growing Up, Moving On. The international treatment of childhood criminal records’ (Standing Committee for Youth Justice, 2016). 

Claire is also a tutor on the Child Studies MA at King’s College London.