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Ministers publish Human Trafficking Bill

12 December 2014

The promised bill to combat human trafficking and exploitation in Scotland has been introduced today by the Scottish Government.

The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill will clarify and strengthen criminal law by introducing a new single human trafficking offence and increasing the maximum penalty for offenders to life imprisonment, while also guaranteeing victims support.

Further provisions in the bill will:

  • give adult victims of trafficking equivalent rights to access immediate support and assistance as child victims already have;
  • ensure guidance for prosecutors in dealing with the victims of trafficking and exploitation who are forced to commit crime as a direct result of their victim status; and
  • require Scottish Ministers to work with other bodies to publish and keep under review a Scottish Anti-Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson commented: “While the focus of this Bill is very much on the needs of victims, under these proposals those who seek to peddle human misery will also face the toughest possible penalties.

“Previously, criminal law against trafficking was spread across different legislation. For the first time, the bill will create a new single offence of trafficking for all forms of exploitation for both adults and children and those who seek to exploit others, with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

“The proposals are designed to give Scotland’s law enforcement agencies greater tools in their armoury to bring those responsible for human trafficking and exploitation to justice, as well as providing greater support to victims."

He added: “We know that legislation alone will not help to identify potential victims. That’s why we’re combining legislative action through this bill with the development and implementation of a Human Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy – building on the work already undertaken to increase public awareness, training for frontline staff and engagement with businesses to help spot the signs of potential trafficking and exploitation. In developing the strategy we will listen and be open to any suggestions."

Click here to access the bill and related papers.

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