Introduction and purpose
In October 2015 the Scottish Parliament passed the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015 ("the Act"). The Act received Royal Assent on 4 November 2015.
Section 11 of the 2015 Act places a duty on Scottish Ministers to make arrangements for
an Independent Child Trafficking Guardian (ICTG) to be appointed for a child:
- whom a relevant authority has reasonable grounds to believe is or may be a victim of human trafficking;
- whom a relevant authority has reasonable grounds to believe is vulnerable to becoming a victim of human trafficking; and
- for whom no-one in the UK has parental rights or responsibilities.
The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015 (Commencement No. 1 and Transitory Provisions) Regulations 2016 ("the Commencement Regulations") brought into force certain provisions of the Act on 31 May 2016, including section 11 but only for the purpose of making regulations under section 11(7) and (8). Scottish Ministers will consider exercising their powers under these sections of the Act and this consultation intends to inform this and define the wider roles and responsibilities of the Independent Child Trafficking Guardian.
It is the intention of the legislation that all children and young people who arrive in Scotland unaccompanied and who will have undergone an arduous migration alone, are considered to being at risk of having been trafficked or becoming trafficked and would be referred to the ICTG for support. Those children who have been a victim, or who may be a potential victim, of human trafficking for whom someone in the UK does have parental rights or responsibilities will not be eligible for an ICTG. Existing legislative provisions and standard child protection processes and procedures will continue to be used and local authorities will continue to meet their duties towards these children, and all other children and young people present in their areas, as set out in the Acts of the Scottish Parliament which legislate for children and young people.
It is the intention that the functions of the ICTG must be such that they complement, rather than conflict or compete with, existing statutory roles. They should focus on where they can add value in supporting these eligible children and address any gaps in support which are needed to meet their specific needs.
Section 11(1) places a duty on Scottish Ministers to exercise their powers in order to make such arrangements as they consider reasonable to enable an "Independent Child Trafficking Guardian" to be appointed to assist, support and represent an eligible child. The Act defines a 'child' as being under 18 years of age.
Section 11(8) defines "person with parental rights or responsibilities" in relation to a child and "relevant authority". Both of these definitions may be added to or amended by regulations made by Scottish Ministers. An earlier consultation in summer 2016 covered the definitions as currently set out and sought views as to whether regulations should be brought forward. The outcome of that consultation will be considered alongside responses to this consultation.
The purpose of this consultation paper is to seek your views on a number of issues in relation to a child trafficking guardian.
This consultation will be split into two sections:
- part one seeks your views on the proposed regulations as defined under section 11(7); and
- part two seeks views on wider operational details.
Your responses will help to inform draft regulations and supporting guidance.
Scottish Government consultation process
Consultation is an essential part of the policy making process. It gives us the opportunity to consider your opinion and expertise on a proposed area of work. You can find Scottish Government consultations online at https://consult.gov.scot. Each consultation details the issues under consideration, as well as a way for you to give us your views, either online, by email or by post.
Responding to this consultation
The consultation will run for 12 weeks and we are inviting responses by Sunday 17th November 2019. Please respond to this consultation using the Scottish Government's consultation platform, Citizen Space. You can view and respond to this consultation online at: https://consult.gov.scot/looked-after-children-unit/independent-child-trafficking-guardians
You can save and return your responses while the consultation is still open. Please ensure that you have submitted your response before 11:59 pm on Sunday 17th November 2019.
Responding by post
If you are unable to respond online using Citizen Space, please submit your response by post.
Please send your completed response to:Looked After Children Unit
Victoria Quay, 2A South
Handling your response
If you respond using the consultation hub, you will be directed to the "About You" page before submitting your response. Please indicate how you wish your response to be handled and; in particular, whether you are content for your response to be published. If you ask for your response not to be published, we will regard it as confidential and treat it accordingly.
All respondents should be aware that the Scottish Government is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and would therefore have to consider any request made to it under the Act for information relating to responses made to this consultation exercise.
If you are unable to respond via Citizen Space, please remember to complete and return the Respondent Information Form included in the supporting files of this document.
Next steps in the process
Where respondents have given permission for their response to be made public, and after we have checked that they contain no potential defamatory or offensive materials, or where publication would be contrary to copyright or data protection laws, we will make responses available to the public at https://consult.gov.scot. If you use Citizen Space to respond, you will receive a copy of your response by email.
Following the closing date, all responses will be analysed, considered and used to inform the decision making process, along with a range of other available information and evidence. Responses will be published where we have been given permission to do so.
Following this, the Scottish Government will publish a report, outlining the next steps and any further work that will be necessary to progress the development of the independent child trafficking guardian service. Depending on the nature of the consultation exercise the responses may:
- indicate the need for policy development or review;
- inform the development of a particular policy;
- help decisions to be made between alternative policy proposals; and
- be used to finalise legislation before it is implemented.
While details of particular circumstances described in a response to a consultation exercise may usefully inform the policy process, consultation exercises cannot address individual concerns and comments, which should be directed to the relevant public body.
Comments and complaints
If you have any comments about how this consultation exercise has been conducted, please send them by email to email@example.com or by hard copy to the Looked After Children Unit at the address above.