New powers to tackle human trafficking

Trafficking and Exploitation Risk Orders in force.

New powers to tackle trafficking suspects have come into force, which means potential victims will be protected from harm.

Police can now apply to courts for a Trafficking and Exploitation Risk Order when they believe there is a risk someone may commit a trafficking or exploitation offence. This means the suspect is effectively banned from a range of activity with potential restrictions on movement within the UK or on internet use.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said:

“The exploitation of people – often those in vulnerable circumstances – is a deplorable act. While this crime is a worldwide problem, people should be under no illusion that it is happening across Scotland, and not just in our cities.

“We are tackling this crime by toughening the law and alerting the public through our awareness campaign. I launched Scotland’s first strategy on human trafficking this year, which aims to identify and support victims, make Scotland a hostile environment for exploitation, and disrupt traffickers’ activity. The Risk Order should help us do that at the earliest possible opportunity.

“If you suspect trafficking activity in your community, I urge you to report it – you could just save someone from a life of miserable servitude.”

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Johnson, Police Scotland, said:

“Trafficking and exploitation is challenging and complex to investigate. The new Human Trafficking and Exploitation Orders give our officers additional powers to build our intelligence picture and tackle those who traffick and exploit others for gain."

The Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC said:

"I welcome the introduction of Trafficking and Exploitation Risk Orders.

“The Orders provide Scotland with an additional tool to tackle the global trade in human beings and prevent both physical and psychological harm.”


The Risk Order completes implementation of Part 4 of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015, granting Police and prosecutors more powers to detect and prosecute, and prevent exploitation. The power to make orders is at the discretion of the courts and it is for the courts to assess the proportionality of orders in each and every case.

Part 4 of the Act introduced two new court orders – Trafficking and Exploitation Prevention Order (TEPO) and Trafficking and Exploitation Risk Order (TERO). TEPOs, which came into force on 30 June. Both allow police, prosecutors and courts to protect the public from and deter trafficking and exploitation.

A TEPO can be made at the point of sentencing or by a court application by Police.

A TERO can be made on the basis of strong suspicion by Police that the person may commit such an offence. Once granted by the court, restrictions placed through a TERO would protect others from psychological and physical harm.

TEPOs have a fixed period of five years, and two years for a TERO. A ban on foreign travel cannot exceed five years in both instances. A breach of either order is a criminal offence.

    • Read the Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy
    • If people suspect trafficking or exploitation is taking place in their area, or if they have experienced exploitation themselves, should contact the Modern Slavery helpline by calling 08000 121 700
    • The Scottish Government has been running a public information campaign to raise awareness of human trafficking happening now in communities across Scotland. By generating awareness that this crime is happening, and the forms it takes, it is hoped that more people will come forward to report any concerns they may have. Watch one of the campaign videos.


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