GLAA Acquires New ‘Police-Style’ Powers

The GLAA is tasked with investigating a variety of labour market offences, including under the National Minimum Wage Act 1998, the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 and parts of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, although previously the authority has had to refer matters to the police service to make use of their powers of search and arrest etc.

However, following the proposals put forward by Kevin Hayland OBE, the UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, the provisions set out in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (often referred to as PACE) has been amended so that particular powers now also apply to GLAA officers.

The new powers are wide ranging and confer significant powers on GLAA officers, including:

  • The power of arrest (including the power of entry for the purpose of arrest);
  • The power to search after an arrest;
  • Power of seizure, including computerised material (and the power to retain material seized);
  • Stop and search powers; and
  • Use of reasonable force in the exercising of such powers.

Crucially, the GLAA has made it clear that these new powers are not simply a façade or substitute for action, and the authority plans to make maximum use of them. In line with the extended powers, the authority’s government funding has been increased by a further £2m, allowing the authority to make sufficient use of its newly acquired powers. In the 2 months following the introduction of the powers, the authority has arrested over 25 people in connection with the relevant labour offences.

However, although important new rights, they are not unconditional. Many of the duties conferred on police accompany the powers. These duties include making records of searches, providing certain information on arrest, and in the event of a search, the grounds on which the officer is proposing to make it.

Nevertheless, it is envisaged that these new powers and resources will increase the number of investigations carried out by the GLAA, increase the efficiency with which they are undertaken, and clarify the implications for failing to comply with the relevant statutory provisions.

It is therefore important that if you find yourself being subjected to a GLAA investigation, it is crucial that you obtain independent and expert legal advice as soon as possible. To discuss any GLAA-related issue please contact Robert James.


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