Publication - Consultation paper

Trafficking and exploitation strategy: draft for consultation

Published: 12 Oct 2016
Justice Directorate
Part of:
Equality and rights, Law and order

A draft strategy for consultation on tackling human trafficking and exploitation in Scotland.

17 page PDF

292.0 kB

17 page PDF

292.0 kB

Trafficking and exploitation strategy: draft for consultation
Section 1: Introduction

17 page PDF

292.0 kB

Section 1: Introduction

1. Overview

Human trafficking and exploitation are abhorrent crimes, as well as abuses of human rights and dignity. Trading adults and children as commodities and exploiting them for profit or personal benefit degrades victims and can cause lasting physical and psychological damage. Yet human trafficking and exploitation are happening in Scotland today and not just in our cities. The many purposes for which people are used - including commercial sexual exploitation, labour exploitation and criminal exploitation (for example, benefit fraud and forced drugs cultivation), domestic servitude and sham marriages - are continually evolving.

Human trafficking and exploitation are not only international issues. Adults and children are trafficked and exploited within and between communities in Scotland and the wider UK. It is imperative that we as a nation acknowledge that trafficking and exploitation are taking place now in urban and rural communities across Scotland. It is equally important that we act now to protect victims and prosecute those who perpetrate these crimes.

This Strategy sets out the approach that the Scottish Government and its partners in the public, private and third sectors, working with others in the UK and internationally, will take to address human trafficking and exploitation. This is the latest in a series of steps we have taken with our partners, aimed at exposing and eradicating these crimes.

The Strategy is a direct result of the Act [1] , the first dedicated Scottish legislation on this issue, which created the offences of human trafficking and slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour with a maximum life sentence possible for each. We have developed this Strategy to bring together and build on all the valuable work already undertaken by the Scottish Government and our partners to provide coherent, effective support for victims and take action against perpetrators.

2. What We Will Do

Our vision is a straightforward (although not simple) one - to work to eliminate human trafficking and exploitation. The actions set out here will help us to move towards fulfilment of that vision.

Our approach takes account of the hidden and complex nature of human trafficking and exploitation - characteristics that enable it to flourish and make it particularly difficult to identify and to stop.

First and foremost is the critical situation of victims subjected to these offences. Victims can appear to be criminals themselves. Terrified and traumatised, they may not feel able to admit what is happening to them or even see themselves as victims or as being exploited. We must also recognise that every child who is a victim of human trafficking or exploitation is also a victim of child abuse. Child protection procedures must therefore be implemented at the earliest opportunity.

Generating greater understanding and awareness of these crimes and their effect on victims is therefore central to our approach. We will make victims and those at risk of becoming victims our top priority, supporting them to escape or evade the cycle of exploitation and enabling them to rebuild their lives and recover and exercise their rights.

Where there is a victim there is also a perpetrator. There is therefore a need to continue to ensure that agencies with responsibilities in that regard are able to investigate the crimes and disrupt the activities of the perpetrators.

This Strategy identifies the three areas of action where we will focus our efforts. Progress in these key areas will deliver benefits for victims and reduce the number of potential new victims. While discrete, the three action areas will also work together to help break the cycle.

Identify victims and support them to safety and recovery

  • We and our partners will promote increased understanding and awareness among those who may encounter victims about signs of trafficking and exploitation and create clear pathways for them to take action and get support from specialists.
  • We will build a network of experts in different areas who would cooperate to improve joined up support. We will provide victims with support to help them start the recovery process and build greater resilience, through promoting trauma informed and human rights focussed responses. We will seek to improve the identification process so as to ensure the trust of victims and professionals in the support system available to them.
  • Support and protection for children in Scotland who have or may have been subject to these crimes will be provided within the context of Scotland's child protection system and the national Getting it Right for Every Child ( GIRFEC) approach to improving outcomes for children and young people, recognising the specific rights afforded to children and young people in this respect through the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ( UNCRC). This places the child at the centre, enabling services to focus both on the protection and wellbeing needs of the child.

Identify perpetrators and disrupt their activity

  • We will improve the flow of information about trafficking and exploitation, working to increase the reporting of potential victims and encourage voluntary reporting. Along with our partners, we will promote and develop better information sharing and joint action across borders. Courts will have new powers available when sentencing perpetrators, including powers to restrict their activity and confiscate their profits.

Address the conditions, both local and global, that foster trafficking and exploitation

  • We will inform the public, encouraging them to question and reject the exploitation of other human beings and to think about how what they buy and what they do could contribute to this crime. We will highlight the fact that trafficking and exploitation do not only happen across international borders, but also within the UK and Scotland. Alongside this we will seek to identify those areas where victims brought to Scotland come from. In all cases we will work with partners to find ways of raising awareness and providing protection against trafficking and exploitation to potential victims.

3. How We Will Do It

This Strategy brings together a number of strands in a way that recognises the good work that currently exists, and sets out ambitions for improvement. It identifies the key areas where we must act to effect change and prioritises actions that we must take to eliminate human trafficking and exploitation. Having agreed this vision and framework with our partners, we look to them and to other organisations to develop their own action plans to support the national level Action Plan.

Three principles underpin our approach: a focus on victims, partnership-working and continuous improvement.

Focus on victims

We will seek to engage with the people most affected by human trafficking - the victims and those at risk of becoming victims, finding ways to hear their voices and to take account of their experiences in what we do. This will help us better support them, understand their experiences, prevent re-victimisation and reduce the number of new victims.

Partnership Working

We all need to take action and the Strategy will help deliver the vision. Much work is already done by many organisations and individuals to raise the profile of this issue and lay the foundations for action.

Without the commitment of our partners we cannot deliver this Strategy. Partnership working brings a number of benefits, not least the opportunity to learn from others, share information, reduce duplication of effort and identify synergies. A separate Action Plan, to sit alongside the Strategy, will set out the details of what the Scottish Government and partners will do to move this agenda forward strategically and operationally. Organisations can use the Strategy to create their own action plans to deliver the objectives of this Strategy.

We are looking to bring together the efforts of various agencies, because we believe that collaboration, co-operation and partnership working will enable us to move forward more effectively. Stakeholders have been engaged in the development of this Strategy through structures put in place to support its development - the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Strategic Oversight Group, the Strategy Implementation Group, the Child Trafficking Strategy Group [2] and the Stakeholder Forum. Members of these groups have experience of supporting victims and this ensures that their voices and experiences have been considered.

The Strategic Oversight Group and the Strategy Implementation Group have helped to start to build that partnership at a national level and these will continue to meet to oversee the implementation of the Strategy.

The UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner ( IASC) [3] is a member of the Strategic Oversight Group and will work in partnership with the Scottish Government on projects in Scotland and across the UK. In addition, collaboration with and between relevant agencies across the UK, public, private and third sector, will be of great benefit in tackling human trafficking and exploitation.

Our links with the IASC and others will help us to play our part in international partnerships. Again, we will continue to engage with these and other relevant organisations, to reflect the international nature of this work. This Strategy takes account of the IASC Strategic Plan.

We propose developing a national network across all relevant partner organisations, to share information, learning and good practice.

Local partnerships are also key and we will seek to facilitate their development. It may be that existing structures evolve to include human trafficking and exploitation, or it may be that local organisations and agencies develop their own specific structures.

At whatever level partnerships operate, there are a number of principles that will drive them and determine their effectiveness:

  • Strong leadership
  • Openness, transparency and trust
  • Effective and appropriate sharing of information, intelligence and data
  • Space to collaborate
  • Knowledge of, and respect for, the roles of others within the partnership
  • Clear, multi-agency pathways and cross boundary processes
  • A shared sense of responsibility and commitment

In addition, we will work across the Scottish Government, so that our policies take account of the needs of the victims of trafficking and exploitation and align our Strategy with these to increase effectiveness.

Continuous improvement

We and our partners will continually test the results of our activity against our goals, building measurement into what we do, so that we can improve the effectiveness of our initiatives. We will use pilots and trials, learn from others, build on our successes and reflect on our responses.

4 How Will We Know It Is Working?

A set of measures to be reported on for the Strategy as a whole is set out at Section 5.

Regular Stakeholder Forums will provide an opportunity to consider what progress has been made and to consider what further action may be necessary.