Human trafficking laws now in force

Convicted Traffickers could now face life imprisonment.

Scotland’s efforts to tackle human trafficking and improve support for victims of the despicable crime have been strengthened with new measures in force from today.

The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015 includes the possibility of a sentence of life imprisonment for those convicted of human trafficking or slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour.

Police and the courts will also have new powers to confiscate and seize property used for human trafficking. Courts will also be able to impose longer sentences for other crimes which involve trafficking, where trafficking is committed by a public official, or when the victim is a child.

Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson said:

“The measures coming into force today sends the strongest possible message that those who seek to profit from human suffering will not be tolerated in Scotland.

“The trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable adults and children is an appalling crime that brings misery and potential long term consequences for its victims.

“The new offence of trafficking will ensure perpetrators will face the toughest possible penalties while also providing greater protections for their victims.

“We are also clarifying and strengthening the criminal law around trafficking and exploitation, and giving police and prosecutors further tools to track down and prosecute criminals.

“However, legislation alone will not stop trafficking which is why we are developing a Human Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy to build on the work already being undertaken to increase public awareness and help businesses and staff spot the signs of potential trafficking and exploitation.”

Notes to editors

There is now also a requirement for the Lord Advocate to issue instructions about the factors prosecutors must consider before deciding whether to prosecute a person who may have been compelled to carry out a crime as a victim of human trafficking.

Other measures introduced by the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015, relating to supports for victims, including child victims, are being developed and will be laid in due course.


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