Trafficking and exploitation strategy: fourth annual progress report - 2020 to 2021

Report setting out progress implementing the Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy from 2020 to 2021.

Section 3

Action Area 3 – Address the conditions that foster trafficking and exploitation

Action Area 3 focuses on addressing the conditions that can enable human trafficking to take place. The implementation group has a focus on a number of key issues, including:

  • awareness of trafficking;
  • engagement with and the role of businesses and other communities in preventing trafficking; and
  • addressing the wider conditions, including poverty and inequality, which make trafficking possible and profitable.

Action Area 3 is chaired by the Scottish Government and met once during the reporting period.

Membership of the group includes:

  • Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group
  • Brightwork Recruitment
  • Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA)
  • Hope for Justice
  • Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner's office (IASC)
  • International Justice Mission (IJM)
  • Police Scotland
  • Renfrewshire Council
  • Scottish Government (human trafficking policy, procurement policy, homelessness policy, organised crime policy, equality policy)
  • University of Stirling Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection

Looking Back

The third annual progress report identified five different strands of work that Action Area 3 would continue to deliver and take forward during 2020/21, further detail of which can be found in this chapter. These were:

  • Following the Home Office's consultation on strengthening Transparency in Supply Chain (TISC) requirements, the Scottish Government will work with partners to ensure effective implementation in Scotland;
  • The group will build on the work already done to raise public awareness, including consideration of how awareness raising activity can make the greatest impact on stopping trafficking and helping victims;
  • The group will consider further opportunities to target support and interventions towards those at most risk of trafficking;
  • On research, CATRiS at the University of St Andrews has made a positive start towards drawing together existing research activity related to trafficking; the group will work with CATRiS to make more effective use of research and consider where further research may be required; and
  • The international roundtable hosted by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice identified where some further work could be taken forward in strengthening international links and considering in- country work to prevent trafficking.

Key outcome: people know about the extent of trafficking in Scotland

Identifying the full extent and nature of human trafficking in Scotland is a significant challenge. While data from the NRM provides part of the picture, trafficking is often a hidden crime, with perpetrators going to great lengths to maintain their control without raising suspicion. It is vital that victims can be identified and helped to access the support that they require. We all have a key role to play in recognising potential signs of trafficking and reporting any concerns to Police Scotland or the Modern Slavery and Exploitation Helpline. This can be crucial in detecting and recovering individuals from exploitative situations, ensuring the necessary support is available and bringing traffickers to justice.

In spring 2021 the Scottish Government commissioned a fifth annual public awareness study to build on evidence from previous years on whether awareness is improving and what aspects continue to prove challenging.

In line with public health restrictions, the 2021 survey was conducted solely online. A sample of 1,000 adults were interviewed from 17-24 March 2021.

As noted in the third progress report, the results of the online survey cannot be directly compared with previous surveys carried out using face-to-face methodology. However, the online data gathered in 2020 and 2021 are comparable.

The trend for respondents to view human trafficking as less of an issue the nearer to home the question relates continued in 2021. More than one in two respondents viewed human trafficking as an issue to a great extent in the rest of the world, with this reducing to 45% of respondents in relation to Europe. This trajectory continues with 15% believing it is an issue "to a great extent" in Scotland compared to 8% in their local area.

Respondents were also asked to spontaneously name the activities/ industries that might involve adult victims of trafficking in Scotland. Results were broadly consistent with 2020, with 49% identifying the sex industry/prostitution, followed by catering/hospitality (18%), farming (17%) and beauty industry/nail bars (14%). Overall, there were signs of slightly lower awareness around human trafficking. While the reasons for this reduction were not explored, it may be linked to a focus on the pandemic, with subsequently less space for messaging around human trafficking. A significant proportion of respondents (38%), did not know when unprompted which industries and activities in Scotland might involve children who are victims of trafficking.

When respondents were asked what they would do if they suspected someone had been trafficked and was being exploited, responses were broadly the same as 2020, with 82% saying they would report it to police.

More detail on the findings of the survey can be found in the report which is available online.[13]

The Scottish Government promotes the UK-wide Modern Slavery and Exploitation Helpline (08000 121 700) in marketing materials and communications activity, encouraging members of the public to report any concerns they may have through the phone line, website or app. The helpline has published quarterly reports covering 2020 and their annual report was released earlier this year. The reports reflect a slight decrease in the total number of referrals to the helpline from Scotland – from 190 in 2019 to 178 in 2020. Raising concerns with the Helpline through the online facility remained broadly consistent at around a third of all referrals. Enabling alternative referral routes through which the public can report concerns is a key commitment in the Strategy.

As set out in last year's progress report, the Scottish Government planned a marketing campaign to raise public awareness of human trafficking, following on from the successful campaign in autumn 2017. The campaign was initially scheduled to launch in May 2020, but given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic the decision was taken to push this back to later in 2020. However, as focus remained on the pandemic throughout winter 2020/21, we elected to pause the campaign until such times as it will achieve maximum impact.

The Scottish Government and partners have continued to make use of opportunities for coverage of human trafficking issues, including the publication of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner's annual reports in September 2020 and July 2021, the secondment of Vietnamese officers to Police Scotland, Anti-Slavery Day in 2020 and 2021 and the launch of the NRM toolkit in March this year. The joint communications planning group was relaunched in March 2020 and has continued to liaise remotely to improve coordination and effectiveness of messaging. This group includes Police Scotland, the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner's office, TARA, Migrant Help, COPFS and others.

"The time with TARA was just right, I have been supported by TARA for over a year and I feel safe and confident now."

The Consortium of Anti-Trafficking Researchers in Scotland (CATRiS), was created two years ago through the collaboration of independent researchers of trafficking-related areas of study throughout Scottish Higher Education Institutions. It was deliberately placed at the nexus between these researchers, the Scottish Government, Police Scotland and the third sector in Scotland. It also, uniquely in the UK, brought together those researching "trafficking" more widely – such as human, arms, drugs and wildlife, with an expanding field of shared intelligence to offer to those designing policy or policing efforts. Just prior to COVID-19, student groups throughout Scotland voiced a wish to create a student wing of CATRiS to raise awareness of trafficking issues and this was in the process of being established mirroring the partnership working between institutions.

CATRiS has reached a point where further development funding is required. The will of the researchers remains, across Scotland they have been working throughout the pandemic and continue to be keen to collaborate on trafficking issues (especially based on what can be learnt from the lack of routine movements during lockdown periods) but funding is critical if CATRiS is to move forward. Funding opportunities will be explored, where time allows, and the goodwill of the CATRiS steering group members will remain until a way forward is found.

The Scottish Government has developed strong links with the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre[14] (Modern Slavery PEC). This engagement has enabled the Modern Slavery PEC to utilise evidence from Scotland when developing research proposals and both the Scottish Government and Modern Slavery PEC are committed to working together to design and support research that will lead to improved outcomes for survivors of human trafficking and exploitation.

Key outcome: people and businesses are aware of how what they do and buy can contribute to this crime

Action to identify, tackle and prevent human trafficking requires a response from across society. The corporate sector has a key role to play and as part of plans to develop our engagement in this area, the Scottish Government has supported the creation of Scotland Against Modern Slavery[15] (SAMS) alongside Shan Saba, a director with Brightwork Recruitment. SAMS was created to inform and share best practice about human trafficking and exploitation throughout the business community in Scotland.

"TARA have helped me in so many ways, thank you to my worker for all of your support."

As part of the launch, the former Cabinet Secretary for Justice participated in a SAMS podcast, highlighting risks to businesses and the steps they can take to mitigate them both in their own operations and wider supply chains. Further podcasts have included the Independent Anti- Slavery Commissioner and the detective superintendent leading Police Scotland's National Human Trafficking Unit.

Following the Independent Review of the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015, the Home Office held a public consultation from July-September 2019 around reforms to the requirements on businesses to produce and publish Slavery and Human Trafficking Statements. In September 2020, the Home Office published its response to the consultation[16], committing to a significant strengthening of legal requirements for businesses with a turnover of £36m or more, including legislative change to:

  • mandate reporting topics that Trafficking and Exploitation Statements must cover;
  • introduce a single reporting deadline of 30 September by which all statements must be published;
  • require organisations in scope of the legislation to publish their statements to the government-run modern slavery statement registry; and
  • extend the transparency in supply chain requirements to public bodies in England and Wales with a budget of £36m or more.

The Scottish Government welcomed the strengthening of requirements for large businesses and is committed to exploring separately in Scotland about the extension of transparency in supply chain requirements to Scottish public bodies.

The Home Office also committed to consider enforcement options alongside the development of the Single Enforcement Body (SEB) for employment rights and issue a further update in due course.

On 12 January 2021 the UK Government announced plans to introduce financial penalties for organisations who fail to meet their statutory obligations to publish annual modern slavery statements. The new SEB for employment rights will have powers to impose the financial penalties against non-compliant organisations. Along with the wider package of changes to section 54 announced in the consultation response, the introduction of financial penalties will require legislative change and we understand will be introduced when parliamentary time allows.

Another important area in addressing human trafficking risks is public procurement. An online platform[17] has been developed to provide easier access for buyers across the public sector in Scotland to the national sustainable procurement tools. The Scottish Government launched the platform in June 2020 and have continued to promote and support its use. So far over 105 Scottish public sector bodies have registered, as well as public, third sector and private organisations in other parts of the UK and further afield. The tools are designed to help Scottish public bodies comply with policy and legislation and to help them identify and achieve economic, social and environmental outcomes through their procurement activity.

The guidance for practical application of sustainable procurement is also on the platform enabling buyers to more easily access and reference information on how to take an ethical approach in their procurement activity including the consideration of human trafficking and exploitation risks.

Key outcome: people at most risk get help to increase their resilience against trafficking

A two-year Seasonal Agricultural Workers Pilot Scheme (SWP) was announced by the UK Government in 2018 in response to concerns raised by farmers about possible labour shortages in advance of, and after, the UK had left the European Union (EU). The ending of freedom of movement means workers who enter the UK to work in the horticulture sector must do so via the pilot.

In the third annual progress report it was noted that the Scottish Government had agreed to provide funding of £48,000 to Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) over 2019/20 and 2020/21 towards an anti- trafficking and exploitation project aimed at workers participating in the pilot.

The research was conducted by FLEX and Fife Migrants Forum (FMF) between March 2020 and February 2021 and collected 146 responses from seasonal worker visa holders (non-European Economic Area citizens) and non-seasonal worker visa holders (European Economic Area citizens exercising free movement) in order to evidence their experiences of seasonal agricultural work in Scotland. Although the focus of the research was on the lived experience of workers, detailed interviews were also carried out with employers, sector bodies, labour providers and trade unions.

In 2020, labour exploitation was the largest indicator in referrals from Scotland to the National Referral Mechanism. During 2020, 387 referrals were made to the National Referral Mechanism in relation to Scotland. Labour exploitation was indicated in 228 of those cases. The research contributed directly towards two outcomes in the Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy:

  • People at most risk get help to increase their resilience against trafficking; and
  • Victims are aware of support and trust it enough to ask for help.

The report[18] was published in March 2021 and highlighted a number of issues with key recommendations for both the Scottish and UK Governments. The Scottish Government is committed to taking all steps within its existing powers to address the relevant recommendations.

In partnership with JustRight Scotland, FLEX and FMF have developed factsheets covering the rights of agricultural workers on the seasonal workers visa in Scotland[19] and, separately, European Economic Area seasonal agricultural workers who hold settled or pre-settled status[20] through the UK Government's EU Settlement Scheme. These have been routinely updated to include information on COVID-19 regulations.

The Scottish Government has commissioned a research project to address a number of critical data gaps around migrant workers including:

  • number of seasonal jobs in the agricultural sector; and
  • demographics of migrant workers, living conditions, wage rates, types of contract, and visa concerns.

The work will also contribute to a wider knowledge base on rural community wellbeing, fair work practices, migration issues, and equalities concerns in the agriculture sector. The data will contribute to our targeted action to develop an evidence-based case for an approach to migration, consistent with the new national population strategy.

Child Poverty

Tackling child poverty remains a key priority for Scottish Ministers, in line with the ambitious targets within the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017. It is estimated that in 2020/21, the Scottish Government invested around £2.5 billion in funding to support low income households, £983 million of which was targeted directly at children in low income families.

Scottish Ministers published the third annual progress report due under the Child Poverty Act in June 2021,[21] reflecting progress in implementing the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan. The progress report outlined that all 66 of the actions previously reported on are either in progress or delivered.

During 2020/21 the Scottish Government continued to deliver progress as part of the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, but also introduced a wide range of additional support to protect people and communities through the response to COVID-19. Key action taken includes:

  • Introducing the Scottish Child Payment for eligible children aged under 6 on 15 February 2021, worth £10 a week per child to low-income families – significantly ahead of the timetable set out in the Delivery Plan. Awards totalling £3.6m were made by 31 March 2021, which are estimated to have benefitted 78,775 children; on 29 November 2021, the Scottish Government announced it would double the value of the Scottish Child Payment to £20 per week per child from April 2022 which will help to lift a further 20,000 children out of poverty in Scotland;
  • Investing over £56 million in the continuation of Free School Meal provision for low income families during school closures, periods of online learning and school holidays – helping to tackle food insecurity and benefitting around 156,000 children and young people by the end of summer 2020;
  • Delivering over 36,000 devices through our Connecting Scotland programme which aims to eradicate digital exclusion in Scotland, benefitting over 17,000 families with children and 4,000 young care leavers;
  • Providing over £100 million of additional investment in third sector and community organisations to enable them to respond to local and community need – including to tackle food insecurity and promote wellbeing; and
  • Allocating considerable resource to local authorities to tackle food and financial insecurity through a cash-first approach, including an additional £22 million for the Scottish Welfare Fund, £8 million for Discretionary Housing Payments, £30 million to tackle food insecurity and £40 million to tackle financial insecurity – helping to ensure families received the help they needed.

Scottish Ministers will continue to report annually on progress made in relation to both the targets set and delivery of actions committed. We will outline further measures to tackle child poverty in our next Delivery Plan, to be published in March 2022.

"The workers at TARA were great and I felt supported during the past year and especially during lockdown period."

Refugees, asylum seekers and migrants

The second New Scots refugee integration strategy[22] was published in January 2018. It is led by a partnership of the Scottish Government, COSLA and the Scottish Refugee Council and involves a wide range of partners across different sectors. The New Scots vision is for a welcoming Scotland where refugees and asylum seekers are able to rebuild their lives from the day they arrive. The strategy sees integration as a long-term, two-way process, involving positive change in both individuals and host communities, leading to cohesive, diverse communities. It recognises that refugees and asylum seekers may have been trafficked on their journey to Scotland and can be vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers and others as they seek safety.

In 2020 the New Scots partnership secured EU funding and in August 2021 the award of £2.8 million in grants to refugee projects which support New Scots was announced. In total 56 projects are receiving funding to deliver initiatives designed to help New Scots settle in their new communities by promoting employability, education, health and social and cultural connections.

On 24 March 2021, the Scottish Government and COSLA published Ending Destitution Together,[23] a joint strategy to improve support for people subject to No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) living in Scotland. NRPF is a highly complex area. An NRPF condition can apply to anyone who is in the UK on a visa, who has applied for asylum or protection, who is an adult dependent relative of a British citizen or person with settled status, or who doesn't have permission to remain in the UK. Some people who are subject to NRPF can be vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking.

The Ending Destitution Together strategy aims to align with work to support trafficking victims and to prevent anyone who is subject to NRPF being pushed into destitution, as well as supporting people to find routes out of destitution. The strategy will be delivered in partnership with third sector, public services and local authorities over the next three years.

"I cannot thank Migrant Help enough, I have been in some very bad places in my life, and this service has been a shining light for me to move forward and begin to be able to hope that I can see my children again."


We are committed to preventing and ending homelessness and rough sleeping in Scotland through our Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan,[24] which was updated in October 2020 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan sets out how we are acting together across public services to implement shared solutions to these challenging issues. This is backed by a further £50 million for our Ending Homelessness Together Fund this parliamentary term. Given the crucial role of getting people into settled housing as quickly as possible, we are investing £37.5 million to support local authorities to prioritise settled accommodation for all through the implementation of rapid rehousing transition plans and the upscaling of Housing First for those facing the most challenges.

We have also seen what is possible when we respond collectively and urgently with an inclusive and human rights-based approach to tackling homelessness. Since March 2020, the Scottish Government has provided over £1.5 million to third sector organisations to enable them to acquire emergency hotel accommodation for people experiencing, or at risk of experiencing homelessness such as rough sleepers and people with no recourse to public funds.

We are committed to ensuring there is no return to night shelter type accommodation. We supported our partners to modify night shelter provision in Edinburgh and Glasgow in winter 2020/21 by contributing to the cost of rapid rehousing welcome centres. The centres will operate again this winter, supported by Scottish Government funding. The centres offer hotel room accommodation and built on good practice to provide under-one-roof multi-agency assessment and support for people at risk of rough sleeping.

A range of measures were put in place to ensure tenants remained safe in their homes during the pandemic, including introducing extended notice periods and an eviction ban for areas subject to certain restrictions. Rapid rehousing and Housing First will be at the centre of our COVID-19 recovery strategy.

Violence against women and girls

The Scottish Government remains committed to tackling violence against women and girls and this work continues within the framework of the Equally Safe Strategy. Equally Safe, Scotland's strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls, is ambitious and encourages us all to be bold in prioritising actions which will eliminate systemic gender inequality that lies at the root of violence against women and girls. Equally Safe adopts the position that prostitution is a form of gendered violence.

Female victims of trafficking are disproportionately likely to be exploited for the purposes of sexual exploitation and we are committed to challenging the systemic inequality which drives this form of violence against women. Against that background, in September 2020 the Scottish Government took forward Scotland's first national consultation 'Equally Safe: Challenging Men's Demand for Prostitution, working to reduce the harms associated with prostitution and helping women to exit'[25] to discuss our future approach to this vital issue within the context of how women and girls should be treated in an equal society.

The response to the consultation[26] was published in June 2021 and the Scottish Government has committed to developing a model for Scotland to tackle this form of violence against women and consider how aspects of international approaches which seek to challenge men's demand for prostitution could best be applied in Scotland. A Short Life Working Group of key stakeholders, including public sector and third sector representatives, has been convened to develop fundamental principles. This group will be informed by a reference group, with membership across government, the wider public sector and third sector.

In addition to a focus on challenging men's attitudes towards the purchase of sex, the Scottish Government is taking forward engagement with those with direct or lived experience to shape services and design measures which will protect them from harm and provide the support they need, including helping them exit prostitution where they are ready to do so.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. As part of this, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to action. Scotland's National Performance Framework (NPF) integrates the 17 SDGs alongside the 11 National Outcomes and is an important part of Scotland's localisation of the SDG agenda. The NPF provides a platform for collaboration based on delivering the National Outcomes and the SDGs. Action is required on both the Outcomes and SDGs simultaneously.

A review of Scotland's progress towards the SDGs was published in July 2020.[27] The report was developed collaboratively between the SDG Network Scotland, Scottish Government and COSLA and includes sections on violence against women and girls (target 5.2 of SDG 5: gender equality), modern slavery and human trafficking (target 8.7 of SDG 8: decent work and economic growth) and human trafficking and sexual exploitation (targets 16.1, 16.2 and 16b of SDG 16: peace, justice and strong institutions). This review supplements the 2019 UK Government Voluntary National Review, the main mechanism by which UN nations are expected to report on their performance towards the SDGs.

In December 2020, the Scottish Government and COSLA jointly published an analytical report which provided evidence on the ways that the pandemic had affected progress towards Scotland's National Outcomes.[28] A key feature of the evidence is that COVID-19 impacts have been (and are likely to continue to be) borne unequally. COVID-19 has acted in a way that is expected to widen many existing inequalities and produce disproportionate impacts for some groups that already face particular challenges. These include households on low incomes or in poverty; low-paid workers; children and young people; older people; disabled people; minority ethnic groups and women.

"I really cannot add anything else. I think that TARA were so nice to me and I had really good support from them. Everything was perfect and I will miss the staff."

International action

Action Area 3 remains committed to exploring prevention opportunities in relation to international aspects of trafficking. Police Scotland has continued to work closely with international partners, including through the ground- breaking secondment of officers from the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security and this is set out in detail within the Action Area 2 section.

Forward Look

Action Area 3 will continue to raise awareness of and compliance with the Modern Slavery Act 2015 amongst businesses in Scotland. Working closely with Scotland Against Modern Slavery, the group will look to develop the private sector response to human trafficking and exploitation, including the creation of pathways to employment where appropriate.

The group will support the consideration of the extension of transparency in supply chain legislation to Scotland.

Following the the fifth public survey on awareness of human trafficking and exploitation in 2021, Action Area 3 will assess the ongoing benefits of a public awareness survey and, if beneficial, whether the question set should be revisited.



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