Human Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy: first annual progress report

The first annual progress report sets out the progress made during the first year of implementation of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy.

Section 2: Action Area 1 – Identify victims and support them to safety and recovery

Implementation structures

Action Area 1 focusses on the victims and survivors of trafficking and exploitation. Key issues for this group include public and professional awareness, effective support for victims and empowering victims to seek the support they need.

The Action Area 1 Implementation Group met for the first time on 14 June 2017 and meets on a quarterly basis. The group is chaired by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities ( COSLA).

Membership of the group includes:

  • The Scottish Government (human trafficking policy, homelessness policy)
  • TARA (Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance)
  • Migrant Help
  • Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner’s office
  • NHS Health Scotland
  • Scottish Business Resilience Centre
  • Police Scotland
  • Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service ( COPFS)
  • Scottish Community Safety Network
  • The Anchor
  • JustRight Scotland
  • Scottish Guardianship Service

Key outcome: people who encounter victims understand signs, what to do and have access to specialist advice and support

Victims of trafficking and exploitation may have few opportunities to interact with professional support services, so it is important that anyone who could come into contact with victims knows how to recognise the potential signs of trafficking, and is able to respond appropriately.

One important element is public awareness, and there has been significant work to raise public awareness of the fact that human trafficking is happening in Scotland, and how to access more information and report any concerns. This activity is covered in detail under the Action Area 3 key outcome, “people know about the extent of trafficking in Scotland,” as well as the text box describing the 2017 marketing campaign on page 27.

The group has also been looking at what guidance and training, pathways and processes are currently in place in the public sector in Scotland. Police Scotland, with input from a range of partners, has developed an e-learning resource: a short training module which can be used in a range of situations but is specifically designed for public sector professionals who may come into contact with trafficking victims but do not work with them on a regular basis. The aim of this interactive e-learning module is to improve understanding of what human trafficking is, give advice on how to recognise the signs that someone may have been trafficked, and provide routes for finding out more and reporting issues to the appropriate authorities. The module has now been published on DVD, through funding from the Scottish Government, and will be distributed for public sector organisations to place on their own intranet pages. It will also be hosted online for access free of charge.

The group has also developed a learning resource for use by community groups. There is widespread interest in the issue of human trafficking, meaning that community groups are often keen to learn more. It is important that the messages being spread within these groups is accurate and consistent, so the group has designed a standard awareness raising presentation, which covers the extent of trafficking in Scotland, the impact of trafficking on its victims, and how to find out more or report concerns. This presentation also provides links to other materials produced by other groups such as Stronger Together, Hope for Justice and Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, including powerful short films which are available online [1] .

Multi-Agency Working: Police & TARA: Aberdeenshire

Engagement by police and TARA with Aberdeenshire Council during February 2018 has heightened the awareness of partners locally, in terms of the requirements to identify instances of Human Trafficking and provide support to victims. This interaction resulted in front page local press coverage of the efforts being directed at tackling Human Trafficking (Press and Journal, 20 February 2018), which in turn has increased public awareness of the issues. The article referred to the safeguarding of a victim and appearance at court of two males, as a result of a police investigation in Elgin.

This presentation was based on on-going awareness raising work undertaken by members of the implementation group, including Scottish Government, TARA, Migrant Help and Police Scotland, in a range of contexts and to diverse audiences.

"Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I feel down. There are good days, but there are some bad days too. I have learnt something during the time I was with you. It is to ask for help, don’t hide anymore, speak even if I don’t speak English that much."

A range of materials have been produced to help raise awareness. A leaflet produced by Police Scotland, “Human trafficking: reading the signs,” has been printed in a range of languages and distributed widely. The leaflets are available to download on the Scottish Government website [2] . This gives information on how to identify that someone may have been trafficked, and where to report concerns. A series of posters using imagery from the marketing campaign have also been printed and shared with partners. A Scotland-specific web-page for the Modern Slavery Helpline website, operated by Unseen, also gives information on potential signs of trafficking [3] .

Individual organisations have developed guidance and processes for identifying and addressing human trafficking and members of the implementation group have supported this where required. For example, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde produced trafficking guidance for health workers making use of materials related to the Strategy.

"I’m very lucky to know Migrant Help. In here, everyone is friendly and full of enthusiasm. I am very happy in here. You always encourage and help."

The Scottish Government commissioned NHS Education for Scotland ( NES) to deliver a National Trauma Training Framework to improve outcomes for people in Scotland affected by child abuse and trauma over the period 2016-2019. The overarching goal of the framework is to support the strategic planning and delivery of training for those who have contact with people affected by trauma across all parts of the Scottish workforce. The Framework is designed to support the recognition of learning and development needs in the workforce and support trainers and managers in meeting them. It details the knowledge and skills necessary to ensure that people affected by trauma can access services that understand and can respond to their needs.

During the first phase of the development of the Framework (2016/17) NES consulted widely. On 25th May 2017 ‘Transforming Psychological Trauma: A Skills and Knowledge Framework for The Scottish Workforce’ was launched by the Minister for Mental Health. The Framework is expected to continue to develop iteratively as an online resource. A National Training Plan is being developed over the next two years (2017-2019) and a plan for implementation is being developed. The NHS Education Scotland website [4] has a webpage dedicated to the Framework and outlines the aims and intentions of the project as well as timescales for completion.

The Scottish Government are working with justice and child protection organisations to improve the process and quality of Joint Investigative Interviews ( JIIs). These interviews are jointly conducted by trained police and social workers for the purposes of obtaining a child’s account of events which require investigation where there are welfare concerns; JIIs would therefore often be carried out with child victims of trafficking.

Work by the key partners will implement the recommendations from the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service’s Evidence and Procedure Review – JII Project Report [5] . This includes developing statutory guidance for JIIs, and reviewing the training, technology and facilities available.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service ( COPFS) continues to apply the Lord Advocate’s guidelines to ensure that victims of trafficking, slavery, servitude or forced or compulsory labour are not prosecuted in relation to offences committed as a consequence thereof. For example, in November 2017 the lead prosecutor directed that proceedings against a young Chinese man, who had been accused of fraud, should be discontinued on the basis that he was a credible victim of human trafficking who had been compelled to commit the alleged offences as a direct result of trafficking.

Between 1 May 2017 and 30 April 2018, twelve cases (involving fifteen accused persons) have been reported to the lead prosecutor for consideration of taking no proceedings or discontinuing proceedings on the basis of the Lord Advocate’s instructions:

  • In six cases (involving eight accused persons) proceedings have been raised or have been continued i.e. the Lord Advocate’s instructions were applied but the test was not met.
  • In two cases (involving two accused persons) no action or no further action was taken on the basis that the Lord Advocate’s instructions were applied and the test was met.
  • In four cases (involving five accused persons) enquiries are on-going to enable a decision to be taken.

Also in November 2017, the Appeal Court repelled a challenge to the compatibility of the Scottish approach to non-prosecution of victims with the EU Directive, confirming that the use of the Lord Advocate’s Guidelines was in accordance with the provisions of the Directive; there was no need for a statutory defence.

Key outcome: coherent person/child centred support process that enables victims to recover and build resilience

Survivors of human trafficking may be subject to physical, psychological and social impacts which can have long-term consequences. It is vital that they get effective specialist support. The Act provides for a statutory period of support for victims going through the National Referral Mechanism ( NRM), and this is in line with international obligations under Article 10 of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.

This statutory period of support for adult victims came into force on 1 April 2018, with the period set at 90 days – a doubling of the existing minimum period. At the same time, support for victims of the offence under section 4 of the Act (slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour) was also placed on a statutory footing. These changes were agreed unanimously in Parliament and were welcomed by victim support organisations and by the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

The Scottish Government continues to provide funding to TARA and Migrant Help to support adult trafficking victims across Scotland. TARA specifically supports female victims of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation, reflecting the particular impacts on this group of survivors and upholding the gender equality obligations under the Council of Europe Convention Article 17. Migrant Help supports all other adult trafficking victims. Funding has been significantly increased for the financial year 2018/19: a 39% increase for TARA to £439,921 for the year, and a 27% increase for Migrant Help to £590,159 for the year. This increase reflects the growing number of referrals through the NRM, and also the increases in the minimum period of support and the provision for victims of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour. The Scottish Government has also committed to a three-year funding agreement with both bodies to provide stability and assurance.

Supporting and listening to survivors

TARA is funded by the Scottish Government to provide support to adult survivors of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation; Migrant Help is funded to support all other adult victims. As well as providing this direct support, both organisations have a key role in reflecting the voices and experiences of victims in policy development and awareness raising.

The provision of support is based on an individual needs assessment, with a strong focus on listening to and acting on the views of service users. Every time a survivor leaves direct support, they are offered an exit interview to reflect on their experiences, ensure they are ready to move on to other forms of support, and gather learning to improve future provision.

Extracts from these interviews are included as quotations throughout this progress report.

Both Migrant Help and TARA take a victim-centred approach where provision is based on an assessment of individual need, and is sensitive to age, gender and culture. Both organisations provide a range of care and support for survivors.

The Act sets out that support and assistance may be provided in connection with (but is not limited to) the following:

  • Accommodation;
  • Day to day living;
  • Medical advice and treatment;
  • Language translation and interpretation;
  • Counselling;
  • Legal advice;
  • Information about other services available to the adult; and
  • If it is in their best interests, repatriation.

Given the nature of human trafficking and exploitation, no single agency can meet all the needs of all victims. Migrant Help and TARA work in partnership with other agencies such as local authorities, Police Scotland and other third sector organisations in delivering the required support. This includes assisting and advocating for victims to access services provided by others to meet their needs.

Migrant Help and TARA have agreed that during 2018/19 they will undertake a self-evaluation process supported by Evaluation Support Scotland and with a focus on the experiences of trafficking survivors, to provide additional assurance that they are being effectively and appropriately supported.

The Scottish Government also funds psychological trauma care for trafficking victims through the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde service The Anchor. This includes psychological assessment, the formulation of care plans and psychological therapy as required to enable the provision of a matched care model for adult victims. The Scottish Government have agreed to increase funding for The Anchor for 2018/19 by 65% to £115,000 to reflect the increasing number of referrals to the service and to assist with childcare costs. Regular consultation and training provided to TARA and Migrant Help helps to ensure that the response to victims of trafficking is trauma informed and recovery focused. Provision of psychological reports informs the NRM process and psychological advice, training and consultation is given to agencies working with victims of trafficking.

All trafficking cases where the victim is under the age of 18 are treated as child trafficking, and victim support is provided through child protection processes by local authorities. This is described in more detail in the section on child trafficking.

The Scottish Guardianship Service has secured, through Aberlour, a funding award of £150,000 over three years from Comic Relief as an additional resource to support unaccompanied asylum seeking children and child victims of trafficking. The Anchor is a partner in the project and the Scottish Guardianship Service will be linking in with the NES and National Trauma Training framework to improve outcomes for children affected by abuse and trauma.

Both Migrant Help and TARA work with NGOs across Europe to provide continued support and transitional integration for those clients who wish to return home. This helps to ensure survivors are supported on their return and reduces their risk of being re-trafficked. In April 2018, TARA undertook a visit to Romania with Police Scotland to strengthen these links.

The Scottish Government continues to work with the UK Government on their proposals for reform of the NRM process, to ensure that what is developed meets the needs of victims in Scotland, integrates appropriately with Scottish services and organisations, and reflects the distinct legislative context in Scotland.

"I am very happy because you helped me a lot. I did not have any money, you give me money and give me clothes and food as well. Thank you very much for supporting me."

Key outcome: victims are aware of support and trust it enough to ask for help

Victims of trafficking may be reluctant to access support because their experiences have made them distrust the police and other services. They may well have previously been approached by people offering to help, only to be exploited further. This is a challenge for all agencies responsible for advocating and organising support for survivors, including Migrant Help, TARA, social workers and the independent advocates in the Scottish Guardianship Service. It is also a wider issue because it can prevent victims from seeking help to escape from exploitation.

The 2017 marketing campaign, while aimed at the wider Scottish population, was also developed with a view to getting messages across to victims. The campaign materials were produced in consultation with trafficking victims, to help make the messages accessible to those at risk of trafficking. Posters using the campaign imagery and leaflets on how to report concerns or access support have been printed and shared in a range of languages, including Vietnamese, Romanian, Lithuanian, Polish and Bulgarian. These are languages often used by trafficking victims and the posters bear the clear message, “people should not be bought and sold.”

All TARA and Migrant Help service users are offered an exit interview before leaving support, and quotes from these interviews are included throughout this progress report. This provides assurance that the client is ready to move on to other support provision, and is also an opportunity to reflect on their experiences and how the process might be made more accessible and less intimidating. Migrant Help and TARA act on these interviews and share learning with partners as appropriate.

Police Scotland continue to support persons who may be at risk of harm through commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Support Health and Wellbeing ( SHaW) visits deliver a multi-agency response to individuals involved in prostitution, as an alternative to immediate enforcement. They are on-going in Aberdeen and Edinburgh with a view to rolling them out further through partnership with Safeguarding Communities, Reducing Offending ( SACRO).

This multi-agency approach is designed to deliver a victim-centred response as an alternative to immediate enforcement, and will be undertaken by Police Scotland and the most appropriate partner within Divisions, at addresses where persons involved in prostitution are believed to be operating. These visits allow Police Scotland and their partners to assess vulnerability, and provide advice about available interventions and support services.

A robust partnership has been built between Police Scotland’s E Division and the Edinburgh Women’s Clinic, ensuring that the implementation of SHaW has delivered positive outcomes since commencing in 2015. An evaluation has now been completed by Specialist Crime Division Public Protection Support, and has been uploaded onto the Police Scotland prostitution mini-site. It is envisaged that this document will be refreshed as SHaW visits develop, and will be used as a reference for other territorial divisions, to assist in local implementation across Scotland.

Looking forward

The e-learning resource and standard awareness raising presentation have been developed but there is more to be done in distributing these and making them available through a range of routes. There is also potential for training activity to support the rollout.

The Implementation Group will consider establishing regional learning events and networks to help with the sharing of good practice and joint working.

The group will also consider developing communication channels to help raise awareness and trust amongst victims to help them come forward and seek support.

Victim’s perspective – TARA service user

My name is Sara, I am 24 years old and I have a daughter who is two years old. I was born in Albania and I lived there until January 2015. A good friend of mine said he could find me a job as a waitress in Italy. I moved to Italy in January 2015. When I arrived there things were not as he had promised me. We were met by two of his friends and I was immediately forced into prostitution. In March 2015 I was put into a truck and taken to London. When I was in London I realised I was pregnant by the beginning of April 2015, however the prostitution continued until August 2015. I managed to escape and had help from someone who also helped when my baby was born, I stayed with them until August 2016.

The gang who trafficked me found where I was living and I had to leave with my baby immediately. I left for Victoria station and I asked the person at the information desk where I could go to get far away from London and who would be able to help me. He suggested I get the bus to Glasgow and go to the Refugee Council. When I arrived in Glasgow I found the Scottish Refugee Council and explained everything to them. They sent me to Migrant Help who then sent me to TARA, here I found people with warm hearts.

At TARA I met ladies who helped me with money, clothes for me and my baby and they also put me into accommodation. They arranged for me to see a psychologist at the Anchor Trauma Service, I still go there and receive help. TARA also arranged for a nurse to visit me, on a weekly basis to help with my mental health. TARA aided me to meet with my Solicitor, she helped me to present my asylum case.

My NRM decisions from the authorities were positive, however at first the Home Office refused my asylum claim because they said I could get support in my home country of Albania. My solicitor had prepared everything for the appeal hearing. TARA met with me the day before the hearing and explained the appeal procedure. They came with me on the day but the Home Office withdrew their previous decision and I was advised that I will be notified of the new decision.

Around three weeks after the hearing date my solicitor called me to tell me that the Home Office had given a positive decision and had granted me leave to remain for 5 years for myself and my daughter. That moment when she told me the good news I was thinking that my daughter would continue going to nursery and she would be safe at all times. As I suffer from depression I can continue to take her to nursery where she will be well looked after. I feel that she will be safe here now due to the decision of the Home Office and the fact they have given protection to the both of us.

After my decision TARA called me and helped me book an appointment to see the Scottish Refugee Council to sort out housing and other things that I require to do. My daughter will continue attending nursery and I will continue seeing my psychologist. Everyone has plans in their lives and my plans now are to continue seeing the psychologist to enable me to feel better and when I am well enough my plan is to look for a job.

TARA has supported and helped me access English classes which I attended on a Tuesday for many months. While attending classes TARA organised care for my baby. This has improved my communication skills and social skills. TARA helped with items for my home with a television, cot, toys, clothes and a pram for my daughter. My life is changing day by day, and all the supports that I have mentioned is coming from TARA.

Without TARA, I know that I would not have been strong enough to care and look after my daughter and fight for asylum for us both. I want to say from the bottom of my soul a huge thank you to TARA for all the care and support they have shown to me and my daughter.


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