Slavery and human trafficking statement

Our slavery and human trafficking statement outlines the strategies and actions we have taken to identify, prevent and mitigate slavery and human trafficking in our own operations and supply chains.

2. Executive Summary

Any form of human trafficking or exploitation is completely unacceptable. These are complex and hidden crimes, as well as abuses of human rights and dignity. Human trafficking and exploitation – often referred to as modern slavery - is not restricted to some far-off land: it also happens in every part of Scotland. Adults and children, including UK citizens, are trafficked and exploited within and between communities in Scotland, across the UK, and internationally.

The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015 ("the Act") was unanimously passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2015. The Act introduced specific offences around human trafficking and slavery, with maximum penalties of life imprisonment, as well as strengthening protections for survivors, including in terms of support to be provided and court orders for protection of victims.

In May 2017, the Scottish Government published its first Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy which sets out the Scottish Government's approach to tackling human trafficking centred on three Action Areas - identifying victims and supporting them to safety and recovery, identifying perpetrators and disrupting their activity, and addressing the local and global conditions that foster trafficking and exploitation. The strategy provides a strong foundation and was developed and implemented through co-operation and partnership across the three Action Areas and the Child Trafficking Strategy Group. This Strategy was also underpinned by annual progress reports and the fourth annual Trafficking and Exploitation Progress Report was published in January 2022, with the fifth annual report to follow. We have also undertaken a review of the strategy to ensure it remains fit for purpose. This was completed in September 2023 and builds on a previous review of March 2020. As part of the outcomes of that review, the Scottish Government will refresh the Strategy for publication in 2024.

More widely across the UK, the Scottish Government enjoys regular collaboration with the Office of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner at both official and Ministerial level and we hope to continue this positive relationship as we refresh and implement the Strategy.

Scotland's aspiration to create a more successful country, with opportunities for everyone to flourish through increased wellbeing and sustainable and inclusive economic growth, is central to the Government's mission. This is underpinned by the National Performance Framework which is aligned to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, by Scotland's National Strategy for Economic Transformation, our annual Programme for Government which sets out our plan for policy delivery and legislation over the next year, and our policy prospectus Equality, opportunity, community: New leadership - A fresh start .

The Scottish Government is clear that individuals must be able to enjoy their human rights in full, must be treated fairly and without discrimination, and must be able to make properly informed choices. This includes being able to participate effectively where decisions are made by a public body which impact upon their rights, whether services are delivered directly or are procured from third parties. To this end, we are committed to giving practical, every-day effect to the human rights obligations and principles set out in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). These principles cover situations where the State either contracts with, or legislates for, business enterprises to provide services that may impact upon the enjoyment of human rights, as well as the range of international human rights treaties to which the UK is a State Party.

In developing this Statement it has been vitally important to ensure that it aligns with the aims and actions of two key Scottish Government publications, Equally Safe and Vision for Justice. This reflects that human trafficking and exploitation needs to be addressed through a truly holistic policy approach.

Equally Safe is Scotland's strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls. By this we mean violent and abusive behaviour directed at women and girls precisely because they are women and girls, carried out predominantly by men, and stemming from women's systemic and deep-rooted inequality. This includes behaviours which are particularly linked to human trafficking and exploitation, such as commercial sexual exploitation. Equally Safe sets out a vision to work with stakeholders to prevent violence from occurring in the first place, to build the capability and capacity of mainstream and specialist services to support survivors and those at risk, and to strengthen the justice response to victims and perpetrators.

Scotland's Vision for Justice acknowledges that the criminal justice system can be a complex arena for people to navigate, particularly when individuals interact with complex crimes such as human trafficking. The Vision for Justice in Scotland was published in February 2022 and aims to ensure that people who come into contact with the justice system as accused, victims or witnesses, are supported to navigate it and to understand the processes of justice, and to ensure that a person's needs and values are respected. This means ensuring timely and clear communication, involving individuals and families in decisions which affect them and, within the legal parameters of justice processes, treating people with empathy and kindness and providing them with the support they need to thrive. All of this aims to create a society in which people feel, and are, safer in their communities and that, by working to address the underlying causes of crime, we support everyone to live full and healthy lives.

In addition to these two Strategies, Scotland's Serious Organised Crime Strategy recognises the links between human trafficking and serious organised crime and underpins our joined-up approach to tackling this alongside our Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy.

Scotland has also published fundamental principles to underpin a developing Framework to tackle prostitution, with relevance to wider forms of Commercial Sexual Exploitation, such as human trafficking. The principles will underpin Scotland's collective approach to tackling prostitution, reflected in both policy and practice.

Whilst it is important to recognise the work being done on a wider level to tackle trafficking and exploitation in Scotland, the purpose of this Statement is to focus on the strategies and actions taken by the Scottish Government to identify, prevent and mitigate slavery and human trafficking in our own operations and supply chains. The following sections set these out in more detail.



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