Human trafficking and slave labour
The Modern Slavery Act will address the horrible conditions of forced labour that sees many trapped in homes and factories.iStock

The UK's new legislation against modern-day slavery that has increased the sentence on serious offenders to life imprisonment has come into effect in England and Wales.

The law also protects victims against prosecution for offences.

The Modern Slavery Act is expected to address the concerns of people exploited by traffickers and others.

Besides increasing the maximum custodial sentence for serious offenders from 14 years to life, it gives courts powers to impose orders to restrict the activities of suspected traffickers.

There are between 10,000 and 13,000 people trapped in modern-day slavery in the UK, according to Home Office figures.

Modern-day slavery includes women forced into prostitution as well as domestic staff and people forced to work in fields and factories.

The new legislation provides slavery victims access to civil legal aid and empowers courts to use assets from perpetrators to compensate victims, reports the BBC.

Alongside the new legislation, the College of Policing has published new national guidance on investigating slavery and human trafficking.

Ms Anne Read, anti-trafficking and slavery director at the Salvation Army, said: "There are thousands of people trapped in situations not of their choosing, doing things they do not what to do and things need to be done to help them and to stop anybody else being sold in to slavery."

The Salvation Army which manages safe houses for adult trafficking victims says it has helped more than 2,500 men, women and families over the past four years.

Domestic workers particularly vulnerable to bad working conditions arrive by the thousands to the UK every year. Not recognized as regular workers, they are deprived of rights and benefits and instead abused and exploited by employers.