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Wednesday, 31 May 2017

New strategy to crack down on human trafficking in Scotland launched

Written by The Press Association

A new strategy has been launched in a bid to eliminate the "appalling" crime of human trafficking.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson pledged work to help people spot the signs of trafficking as well as new powers to crack down on the criminals responsible.

Holyrood has already passed legislation which means those convicted of human trafficking can be given a life sentence.

The new trafficking and exploitation strategy from the Scottish Government aims to better identify victims so they can be given support.

The authorities will also aim to identify those behind human trafficking, and disrupt their activities, as well tackling the conditions that can lead to victims being exploited in the first place.

Mr Matheson stressed victims of trafficking had been involved in drawing up the blueprint, saying they " provided a unique insight into the physical and psychological damage caused by trafficking".

He stated: "We have emphasised the need to let people know that there is support available for victims, wherever they are recovered in Scotland.

"Exposing and eradicating these horrific crimes remain high on the agenda and following the passing of legislation to create an offence of human trafficking with a possible life sentence attached, I am pleased that Police Scotland and the Crown Office will be able to apply for new orders to disrupt traffickers' activity.

"Better awareness among the general public and training for professionals is key to this work, which will be taken forward with a range of partners, including the police, crown and third sector.

"The trafficking and exploitation of adults and children is happening in Scotland today and we all have a role in bringing it to an end."

Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC said: " Human trafficking is a serious and complex crime that presents unique challenges to investigators and prosecutors.

"This strategy will work hand in hand with the tools we have at our disposal to tackle this abhorrent trade, which include the offences under the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015.

"Scotland is a country that is hostile to this kind of exploitation and prosecutors, working with Police Scotland and other law enforcement partners, will play their part in ensuring victims of this crime are protected and have the support they need."

Detective Superintendent Stuart Houston, of Police Scotland's human trafficking unit, said: " Trafficking is often a hidden crime, happening behind closed doors to people who often don't realise that they are being exploited or that they are victims of traffickers.

"Communities are key in helping us identify people who may be the victims of trafficking and exploitation.

"We are asking people to be aware and to report to us or our partners if they suspect someone may be the victim of traffickers.

"The new strategy highlights the importance of awareness-raising and of working in partnership to tackle trafficking and support the victims of exploitation.

"Police Scotland will use all tactics at its disposal including working with partners to tackle trafficking and deter those who seek to enslave others."

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