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17/03/14 09:45

New human trafficking bill for Scotland

Ministers confirm plans for legislation to tackle crime

A dedicated Human Trafficking Bill for Scotland is to be introduced by Scottish Ministers.

The proposals, announced by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, will:

  • Consolidate and strengthen existing criminal law against human trafficking.
  • Enhance the status of and support for the victims of trafficking.
  • Give statutory responsibility to relevant agencies to work with the Scottish Government to develop and implement a Scottish Anti-Trafficking Strategy

Earlier today Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill visited a safe house run by Migrant Help, a trafficking charity which works to provide support to victims in Scotland who have been trafficked since 2009.

Commenting after the visit, Mr MacAskill said:

“Trafficking human beings and exploiting them through forced labour, domestic servitude, prostitution, or for any other purpose, is an absolutely heinous crime. Hearing first-hand the terrible histories victims of trafficking have only serves to reinforce the need for robust legislation to allow our police and prosecutors greater powers to detect and prosecute those who seek to make money from human misery.

“I am grateful to Migrant Help for allowing me to see the facilities on offer here today to gain an even greater understanding of the huge impact trafficking has on victims. The tailored support package they provide is essential to give victims the time to recover from their experiences and make informed choices about their future.

“Human trafficking is a crime than transcends borders, and we will continue to work with the UK and Northern Irish Governments as we develop our Bill proposals. We are also grateful to Jenny Marra MSP for her interest in this agenda - the responses to her consultation on a possible Member’s Bill confirmed strong support for Scottish human trafficking legislation. The work of the cross-party group on human trafficking has also been invaluable in raising awareness of this issue. Human trafficking is a matter of criminal law as well as victim support and it is right that legislation on this issue should be led by Scottish Ministers.

“Ultimately we are determined to develop legislation that gives our police, prosecutors and other agencies the powers to make Scotland a hostile environment for human traffickers, but also helps to identify and support the needs of victims.”

Robert McCrea, Chief Executive Officer of Migrant Help, added:

“Migrant Help has been supporting victims of human trafficking in Scotland since the implementation of the National Referral Mechanism in 2009. As an organisation we have been continuously impressed by the way the Scottish Government approaches issues of human trafficking and modern day slavery. Victims support has always been caring and sophisticated.

“Therefore we understand why the Scottish Government would wish to formalise this work by compounding the best practice and experience into a bill proposal.”

Notes to editors

Scottish Ministers have confirmed that Scottish legislation on human trafficking will be introduced in this parliamentary session. The exact timing will depend on the final legislative programme, which will be announced by Ministers later this year.

Criminal law relating to human trafficking is devolved to Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Parliament, although border control and immigration are reserved.

Following the Human Trafficking Summit, hosted by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, in October 2012, Scottish Ministers have been working with other agencies to strengthen Scotland’s response to human trafficking. The current Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill, before the Scottish Parliament, includes provisions for new human trafficking aggravators. During 2013, Police Scotland published, with Scottish Government support, an awareness raising leaflet to assist public and private sector organisations in spotting the signs of potential human trafficking.

The latest figures for the United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre, National Referral Mechanism, indicate that a total of 99 people were referred by agencies in Scotland as potential victims of trafficking in 2013, an increase of 3 per cent compared with the previous year. Of the 99 potential victims, 77 were adults and 22 were children (i.e. aged under 18 at the time of referral).