Criminal Law Policy Unit
102 Petty France
T:020 3334 5015
F: 020 3334 5518
Mr P Perrin email@example.com
Our ref: 19 April 2011
Dear Mr Perrin
I am writing to you with reference to your correspondence of 23 March 2011, addressed to
Data Access and Compliance Unit (DACU), which was logged as a Freedom of Information
(FOI) request. This was an error on our part, for which I apologise.
The Freedom of Information Act (2000) gives individuals and organisations the right of
access to all types of recorded information held, at the time the request is received, by public
authorities such as the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). Section 84 of the Act states that in order for
a request for information to be handled as a Freedom of Information request, it must be for
recorded information. For example, a Freedom of Information request would be for a copy of
an HR policy, rather than an explanation as to why we have that policy in place.
On occasion, DACU receives requests for information that do not ask for a copy of recorded
information, but ask more general questions about, for example, a policy or a decision. In
these instances the appropriate business area within the MoJ responsible for the subject
matter would handle the enquiry. In this case your correspondence was passed to the
Criminal Law Policy Unit, and I have been asked to reply to your query about the document
Slavery, Servitude and Forced or Compulsory Labour.
As our guidance explains, in the offence of holding somebody in slavery or servitude, or
requiring forced or compulsory labour, the terms are to be interpreted in the same way as the
terms in Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It is that Convention which
says that the term ‘forced or compulsory labour’ shall not include:-
a) any work required to be done in the ordinary course of detention imposed according
to the provisions of Article 5 of this Convention or during conditional release form
b) any service of a military character or, in case of conscientious objectors in countries
where they are recognised, service exacted instead of military service.
c) any service exacted in case of emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-
being of the community.
d) any work or service which forms part of normal civic obligations.
You ask what ‘normal civic obligations’ exist that require ‘servitude’. The exceptions do not
refer to servitude but to forced or compulsory labour. Jury service is an example of a civic
duty which is likely to be covered by the exception.
I hope that explanation helps.