Trafficking and exploitation strategy: review

Sets out our second review of the Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy, first published in 2017 and reviewed in 2020. The review sought to identify if the strategy remained fit for purpose

and reflected the policy and operational landscape associated with Scotland.

2. Review process

Over a period of six months – October 2022 to March 2023 – the Scottish Government undertook an extensive programme of engagement to seek the views of a wide range of stakeholders on the current Strategy, the progress of work and achievement of the objectives set out within the Strategy’s Action Areas. This also sought whether changes are needed either to the Strategy itself or to the approach to implementation.

The engagement process was formally launched on 18 October 2022, Anti-Slavery Day, with the launch of a public survey open from 18 October to 16 December 2022. This was followed by consultation with stakeholders from the three Action Areas and the Child Trafficking Strategy Group, with tailored questions for each line of activity.

This review builds upon a previous review in 2019-20, the outcome of which was published in the third annual progress report and which concluded that, at that stage and in its current form, the Strategy provided a broadly effective framework for delivering and coordinating action against trafficking in Scotland, and that fundamentally redesigning it would be unhelpful at that stage. The first review committed to a new Strategy when circumstances allowed. However, due to the impact of COVID-19, work to refresh the Strategy was paused and in line with statutory requirements, a further review has now been concluded.

2.1 Online public survey

The public survey, launched on 18 October 2022 via social media, ran for two months and received 45 responses. The questionnaire provided and a summary of the responses received are included in Annex A.

2.2 Targeted stakeholder engagement

In addition to the public questionnaire, the Scottish Government utilised a series of questionnaires provided to stakeholders within each of the three Action Area groups and members of the Child Trafficking Strategy Group. The questions issued are provided at Annex B and were tailored based on each stakeholder’s interests under the Action Areas.

Responses were collected and analysed to inform this review.

In addition to these questionnaires, the Scottish Government undertook a programme of one to one meetings with key partners to discuss the Strategy in more detail, with participants including:

  • Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS)
  • Justice and Care
  • Scottish Refugee Council
  • Survivors of Human Trafficking in Scotland (SOHTIS)
  • NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (Glasgow Psychological Trauma Service)
  • Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA)
  • Migrant Help
  • Scottish Government (various policy areas)
  • Scotland Against Modern Slavery (SAMS)
  • Police Scotland
  • Home Office
  • JustRight Scotland
  • Barnardo’s
  • Glasgow City Council
  • Social Work Scotland

Stakeholders were unanimous in their view that the Strategy should be refreshed, with many providing input as to the particular areas of focus for any proposed refresh and some of the drivers of change which should be captured.

The responses received also suggested that the focus of the three Action Areas remained broadly correct, but that several of the outcomes embedded within them required amendment or updating and there was an opportunity to review the strands of work nested under each Action Area. Stakeholders also suggested where they felt opportunities existed to make additions to the outcomes outlined in the Strategy.

2.3 Stakeholder event

At the conclusion of the questionnaire and stakeholder meetings, the Scottish Government then closed the review with a full-day stakeholder engagement session held on 7 March 2023 in Glasgow for members of the three Action Area groups and the Child Trafficking Strategy Group.

The event provided stakeholders with an overview of the review findings to date and the next steps to consider the responses received. Stakeholders were then invited to reflect on the current Strategy, what key indicators and objectives remained relevant, what had been achieved and what within the Strategy required refresh and refinement as part of a potential new Strategy, alongside identifying any changes the Scottish Government and partners should make in a collective approach to tackling human trafficking. The opportunity was also provided for partners to outline what they would like to see in a refreshed Strategy.

A summary of the key findings is provided at Annex C.

2.4 Lived experience

As part of the Review, and running in parallel to stakeholder engagement, the Scottish Government also sought to incorporate views from those with lived experience of the trafficking support system and those who had interacted with the criminal justice system in Scotland as victims and survivors of trafficking and exploitation. In order to incorporate the experiences of victims and survivors, the Scottish Government approached Migrant Help and the Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance to support this vital input.

The Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance Advisory Group (TAG), comprising women who had previously been supported by TARA, and Migrant Help’s Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP), provided significant contributions to this review.

LEAP offered responses to a series of questions provided to them and have registered a clear ask to be involved in the development of any future Strategy. The responses can be reviewed at Annex D. Through Migrant Help, the review also liaised with LEAP members to collate input on the Strategy. Five members of the LEAP fed in to the review, and responses were provided as a consolidated report in March 2023.

The responses received centred around 10 key questions (Annex D) and will be taken forward for consideration and incorporation into the proposed refresh of the Strategy. The following key themes emerged which have shaped the Scottish Government’s conclusions with regards to the review. The feedback outlined:

  • some of the factors which make victims susceptible to trafficking and exploitation and how they should be reflected in the Strategy.
  • how could prevention be focused to enhance awareness of trafficking perpetrators?
  • how to identify the signs of trafficking.
  • the key aspects of support once identified.
  • the interventions that will help facilitate long term recovery.
  • training and how it can assist in recognising the signs of trafficking.
  • what more the Scottish Government could do and how survivors feel the Strategy should evolve to reflect this.

In addition to the responses provided by LEAP to targeted questions, the TAG provided responses to the public survey questions provided in Annex A – these answers are provided in Annex D.



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