Trafficking and exploitation strategy: second annual progress report

Report setting out progress implementing the trafficking and exploitation strategy in 2018 to 2019.

Section 1: Action Area 1 – Identify victims and support them to safety and recovery

Implementation Structures

Action Area 1 focuses on the victims and survivors of trafficking and exploitation. Key issues for this group include public and professional awareness, effective support for victims and empowering victims to seek the support they need.

The Action Area 1 Implementation Group meets on a quarterly basis and is chaired by COSLA.

Membership of the group includes:

  • Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Scottish Government (human trafficking policy, homelessness policy)
  • Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA)
  • Migrant Help
  • Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner’s office 
  • NHS Health Scotland
  • Scottish Business Resilience Centre
  • Police Scotland
  • Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS)
  • Scottish Community Safety Network 
  • The Anchor
  • JustRight Scotland
  • Scottish Guardianship Service
  • Survivors of Human Trafficking in Scotland (SOHTIS)

The membership was expanded in January 2019 to include SOHTIS, a recently established Scottish Registered Charity whose main aims include providing medium to long-term care for survivors, developing creative communication channels to raise awareness of human trafficking and supporting research into human trafficking in Scotland. SOHTIS is committed to working in partnership with all statutory services and third sector organisations in order to add value to existing services.

Looking Back

The first annual progress report identified three areas that Action Area 1 would consider during 2018/19: improving the accessibility of the e-learning resource and the roll-out of training; the establishment of regional networks to share best practice and encourage joint working; and developing communication channels to help raise awareness and trust amongst victims to help them come forward and seek support. Further detail on these areas can be found within this chapter. 

"Things are better. The good thing TARA gave me is a good welcome when I first met them. They supported me well. Good accommodation and clothing and also to make sure I was safe. They gave me guidance to cope with life’s difficulties I have been facing, with no discrimination. They do an excellent job. Thanks TARA."

Key outcome: people who encounter victims understand signs, what to do and have access to specialist advice and support

Ensuring the public and professionals are able to recognise a range of potential trafficking signs and know how to respond appropriately remains a key outcome. Victims of trafficking and exploitation may have limited interaction with those outside of their immediate situation so it is vital that anyone who does come into contact with them understands potential signs of trafficking and exploitation. 

A key component of this is raising public awareness. Building on the Scottish Government media campaign in 2017, Police Scotland launched its first human trafficking media campaign, ‘In Plain Sight’, in October 2018. The aim was to increase awareness of commercial sexual exploitation by communicating the signs to the general public and encouraging contact with the Modern Slavery Helpline to report concerns. 

The campaign was launched over social media platforms as well as TV, radio and traditional media outlets and throughout rail and transport routes. The campaign reached over 2.5 million viewers across social media platforms. Calls to the Modern Slavery Helpline regarding exploitation increased 113% between mid-October to the end of November 2018, compared to the same period in 2017. Further detail about calls to the Modern Slavery Helpline can be found on page 24.

The standard awareness raising presentation developed by the Action Area 1 group in 2018 is now available, free of charge, from the Migration Scotland website[1]. It remains vitally important that the widespread interest across communities about the issue of human trafficking is reflected in accessible, accurate and consistent messaging. The availability of the presentation was highlighted by a prominent article in the August edition of the Scottish Community Safety Network newsletter.

However, it is not only the public who can benefit from an increased awareness of trafficking and exploitation. As set out in the first annual progress report, Police Scotland, with input from a range of partners, developed an e-learning resource comprising a short training module which can be used in a number of situations but is specifically designed for public sector professionals who may come into contact with trafficking victims but do not work with them on a regular basis. The module was published on DVD, through funding from the Scottish Government, and over 150 discs have now been distributed across the public sector in Scotland. Fife Council have replicated the contents of the e-learning module on their Social Work portal, so the e-learning resource is now available online.

In October 2018 Police Scotland delivered its first human trafficking investigators course to 17 officers from across Police Scotland. Two further courses are due to take place in 2019. This specialist course means there is a geographical spread of trained officers across Police Scotland. In addition to detective training, the National Human Trafficking Unit is developing First Responder training for Police Scotland staff. This will focus on the immediate actions required by officers to safeguard potential victims and provide detailed information about the support services available.

Police Scotland’s National Human Trafficking Unit, along with divisional human trafficking champions, have also delivered a number of human trafficking awareness raising inputs to organisations such as NHS Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, local child protection committees, Marine Scotland, Social Work, Strathclyde University, University of West of Scotland, and Highland, Falkirk, North Lanarkshire and Dumfries and Galloway Councils. Following these sessions, due to the training received, victims of human trafficking have been identified and offered support and assistance. 

Hope for Justice have piloted a training session for local authority staff and developed an associated training manual, aimed at practitioners who may be in a position to identify potential victims of trafficking. Hope for Justice have also delivered awareness raising sessions for Dundee City Council, NHS Tayside and Care Commission employees and the Clackmannanshire Alliance, bringing together local authority and Police Scotland representatives. Access to this training is open to all local authorities, without charge, until Autumn 2019[2].

Kirsty Thomson, Director of JustRight Scotland, a charitable group of Human Rights Lawyers, was selected to participate in a live-simulation training course run by the Office of the Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Office (OSCE). This took place in Vicenza, Italy in December 2018.

The exercise focused on human trafficking along migration routes and involved scenarios based on real life cases played out in real time and in locations around Vicenza involving labour and sexual exploitation. The mock simulation involved actors, experts and over 70 anti-trafficking practitioners from Europe, Central Asia and North America. These practitioners came from various disciplines including police, financial investigators, prosecutors, military, specialist NGO staff, psychologists, social workers, UNHCR, journalists as well as lawyers. Also participating from the UK were two senior officers from the National Crime Agency and the Director of Unseen (which operates the Modern Slavery Helpline). 

The idea behind the training was to provide participants with improved knowledge of indicators for identifying trafficked persons as well as concrete proposals on how to apply a multi-agency and human rights-based approach to trafficking investigations. There was a strong focus on investigation and prosecution effectiveness whilst adopting a victim‑centred approach. The approach adopted in Scotland stood Kirsty in good stead but there was learning to be taken from such a unique and invaluable experience on multi-agency working with participants being asked to bring the learning and training back to their home countries.

The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) have delivered approximately 20 sessions to raise awareness of human trafficking over the course of the year, several of which have been delivered in conjunction with Police Scotland and Migrant Help. These sessions have mainly been delivered to local authorities but also to others including Border Force, Scottish Fire and Rescue, Department for Work and Pensions, NHS Scotland and Police Scotland.

Following receipt of additional funding from the Scottish Government, TARA appointed a training officer in October 2018. This officer has undertaken a training pilot with Criminal Justice Social Work and has conducted five 90 minute briefings, training approximately 70 social workers to date. The sessions have been well received, prompting engaged discussion and excellent feedback, including suggestions for expanding the training to reach other public service providers.

The Anchor has provided a range of training and teaching sessions and has also presented at national conferences to increase awareness of the mental health impact of human trafficking. This has included training to Migrant Help on Gender Based Violence, Routine Sensitive Enquiry and Managing Disclosure and Managing Boundaries. Students studying for Global Mental Health Master of Science degrees at the University of Glasgow have also received learning from The Anchor on identifying victims of trafficking and the mental health impact of human trafficking. 

During the past year, the Action Area 1 Group has also worked with a range of other organisations to develop guidance for employees, setting out the likely signs of trafficking and what to do if such a situation is suspected. For example, NHS Health Scotland have refreshed ‘Human Trafficking Guidance for Health Workers’ and members of the group have supported the drafting of this document. In November 2018, the Royal College of Midwifery held a one day conference in Glasgow with a focus on ensuring health and social care professionals were aware of the key signs of trafficking and exploitation and were in a position to offer the necessary support should possible victims be identified.

Exploratory discussions have been held with Education Scotland and further consideration will be given as to how messaging about trafficking and exploitation can best be delivered in secondary schools.

On Anti-Slavery Day, 18 October 2018, the Scottish Government and COSLA jointly hosted an event bringing together over 100 attendees with a professional interest in human trafficking and exploitation. A key focus of the event was to explore the development of regional partnerships and delegates contributed a range of views on how these could operate in Scotland. The outputs from this event have been considered by the implementation group and further work will be taken forward in partnership with local authorities. 

The Scottish Government has continued to engage with the Home Office on National Referral Mechanism (NRM) reform. In February, a roundtable event was held for relevant partners in Scotland to share thoughts on the First Responder role directly with Home Office officials. Police Scotland and TARA have also participated in user testing of the new digital system and have provided feedback to project leads in the Home Office. Engagement with the UK Government continues in order to ensure that the reforms work for Scotland and reflect our distinct systems and legislation.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) continues to apply the Lord Advocate’s Instructions to ensure that victims of trafficking, slavery, servitude or forced or compulsory labour who have been compelled to commit criminal offences as a consequence thereof are not prosecuted. 

Between 1 May 2018 and 28 February 2019:

  • 12 cases have been reported to the national lead prosecutor for human trafficking for consideration of taking no proceedings or discontinuing proceedings on the basis of the Lord Advocate’s Instructions; 
  • In fewer than five cases no action or no further action was taken on the basis that the test within the Lord Advocate’s Instructions was met.

Key outcome: coherent person/child‑centred support process that enables victims to recover and build resilience

Once identified, it is crucial that survivors of human trafficking and exploitation have access to appropriate support in order to begin recovery from the physical, psychological and social impacts that they may have experienced. 

The Scottish Government continues to provide funding to TARA and Migrant Help to support adult trafficking victims across Scotland. TARA specifically supports female victims of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation, reflecting the particular impacts on this group of survivors and upholding gender equality obligations under the Council of Europe Convention Article 17. The Scottish Government is now in its second year of a three year funding agreement with both organisations and will provide over £1m funding in 2019/20.

TARA support a weekly arts and crafts group in a community location for all women accessing their service. The group is facilitated by a TARA Development Officer and a local artist with a crèche available to ensure accessibility for women with children. The group is hosted in a relaxed environment with the purpose of alleviating social isolation and developing low level peer support. The group is well attended with an average of 10-12 women coming each week. Those attending have created soaps, candles, jewellery, embroidery and portraits. The group has helped women develop appropriate friendships and provides a regular catch up with TARA for women who no longer require intensive support but may have transitional needs. The image on the following page is an embroidery that one of the women created as part of this group.

The support provided by Migrant Help and TARA is delivered through a victim-centred approach and is based on an individual needs assessment which takes careful consideration of the victim’s personal characteristics such as age, gender and culture. A wide range of care and support is provided to survivors by both organisations and the Act sets out some of the assistance which may be provided:

  • Accommodation,
  • Day to day living,
  • Medical advice and treatment,
  • Language translation and interpretation,
  • Counselling,
  • Legal advice,
  • Information about other services available to adults, and
  • If it is in their best interests, repatriation.

Due to the complex needs displayed by many survivors of human trafficking and exploitation, a single organisation is unlikely to meet all the support requirements of victims. TARA and Migrant Help work in close partnership with a range of organisations including local authorities, Police Scotland and other third sector partners to provide the necessary support. Both organisations signpost survivors to other services and encourage them to access relevant opportunities in support of their recovery.

"I enjoy Fridays when we meet up at the [arts and craft] class.”

During 2018/19 TARA and Migrant Help undertook a self-evaluation process supported by Evaluation Support Scotland (ESS) with a focus on the experiences of trafficking survivors, to provide additional assurance that they are being effectively and appropriately supported. From April 2018, Migrant Help commenced an evaluation of service delivery and with the support of ESS identified the following key outcomes for trafficking survivors:

  • More stable accommodation,
  • Better mental and physical health,
  • Reintegration to the community,
  • Greater independence,
  • Greater understanding of legal positions, rights and entitlements, and
  • Repatriation.

Working with ESS, TARA have also identified outcomes as a method by which to monitor and evaluate progress for women:

  • Immediate needs met,
  • Woman feel safer,
  • Greater integration into the Community,
  • Increased independence and personal responsibility, and
  • Improved understanding of legal processes.

The Scottish Government continues to fund psychological trauma care for trafficking victims through the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde service The Anchor. This includes psychological assessment, the formulation of care plans and psychological therapy as required to enable the provision of a matched care model for adult victims. The Scottish Government increased funding for The Anchor for 2019/20 to £120,000 to reflect the increasing support provided by the service and to assist with childcare costs.

The image below and on page 12 is an example of client art work displayed at the Anchor and the other photograph is taken from the Anchor Safe Place to Create Group. This image shows a collaboration piece made by Victims. It was agreed that this image could be displayed at The Anchor for other service users to gain optimism. During the creative group, creating joint works offers sense of belonging and worth.

Lack of childcare provision was identified as a significant barrier to victims of trafficking accessing The Anchor. Although the service supported early nursery placements, victims who had children that were not of school age often experienced difficulty sourcing childcare to attend appointments, due to the lack of family networks. This impacted on the assessment process and in some instances delayed treatment. In 2018/2019, £20,000 was awarded by the Scottish Government to fund childcare provision one day a week. The offer of childcare provision for victims of trafficking with children has been operational since July 2018 and victims now have weekly access to a mobile crèche with two members of staff.

Between July and end December 2018, 36 individual appointments have been conducted where victims of trafficking have accessed childcare. In addition, four victims were able to attend a group intervention programme which aims to stabilise mental health difficulties and assist clients to develop coping strategies to manage trauma symptoms. This has allowed clients to attend sessions and utilised clinical time effectively.

client art work

All trafficking cases where the victim is under the age of 18 are treated as child trafficking and victim support is provided through child protection processes by local authorities. This is described in more detail in the chapter on child trafficking.

Migrant Help and TARA continue to work with NGOs across Europe to provide ongoing support and transitional integration for those clients who wish to return home. This helps to ensure survivors are supported on their return and reduces their risk of being re-trafficked. Following TARA’s April 2018 visit to Romania with Police Scotland, key links have been forged with a local support organisation for victims of trafficking. Developing this relationship has enabled an improvement in the referral process for survivors awaiting repatriation who can now have a telephone consultation with a local Romanian support worker prior to their return. This allows a tailored support plan to be in place immediately on their return.

In February 2019 the Scottish Government announced that students granted discretionary leave to remain in the UK as a victim of modern slavery would become eligible for financial support to study further and higher education courses. This change adds to the valuable work already done by TARA and Migrant Help, providing access to education as part of the survivor’s recovery and rehabilitation, and will come into force from the beginning of academic year 2019/20[3]

Key outcome: victims are aware of support and trust it enough to ask for help

Encouraging victims of trafficking to access support and services remains a key challenge for all agencies working to provide survivor support. Distrust of the police and other bodies can also mean victims are less likely to access help in order to escape from exploitative situations.

TARA, in partnership with JustRight Scotland, have piloted a dedicated general legal advice clinic for trafficking survivors. The pilot is designed to empower service users and staff to better understand their legal rights and entitlements, take decisions and exercise choices through early legal interventions. Over the period of the pilot, 13 women have accessed legal advice on a range of issues including the NRM, immigration, Criminal Injuries Compensation, housing and family law. Users were very positive about the opportunity and the Scottish Government is providing funding to TARA to ensure that the legal advice clinic continues to be available to survivors in 2019/20. 

Migrant Help have also introduced a legal drop-in clinic as an additional service available to trafficking survivors. They approached Jain, Neil and Ruddy Solicitors and organised a fortnightly drop-in clinic for clients to help them understand legal terms, the NRM and their entitlements while in Migrant Help care. The clinic has been popular, and clients have commented on the benefits. During 2018/19, 26 clients accessed this service.

"I met with a solicitor after I got recommended by Migrant Help. I had many unclear questions regarding NRM and what’s best for me and many other reservations, but by meeting a solicitor I got answers of my questions. I met a solicitor for 30 minutes and I would say that was the best advice I had after submitting NRM.”

Migrant Help have translated all case management and client information paperwork to common client languages to improve survivors’ access to information and understanding of their rights and to foster independence. The documents have been translated into Arabic, Albanian, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Polish, Slovakian, Romanian, Urdu and Hindi.

The Police Scotland Prostitution Working Group considers the local intelligence picture to devise suitable strategies. This has included Support Health and Wellbeing (SHaW) visits to signpost potential victims of prostitution and support their health and wellbeing in Edinburgh. 

This multi-agency approach was formed of visits by Police Scotland and a health care provider partner within Edinburgh, at addresses where persons involved in prostitution were believed to be operating. Police Scotland will continue to liaise with external partners who provide front line services and will seek to develop new approaches to engage with those involved in off street prostitution and sexual exploitation. 

Looking Forward 

The Scottish Government will explore with partners the reasons for the lack of referrals to the NRM of UK citizens.

Work will be progressed on regional partnerships, engaging with the public, third and private sectors and considering where existing structures can be used to deliver this model.

As NRM reforms are implemented, close engagement will continue with relevant partners. Consideration will be given to the benefits of detailed training for First Responders in Scotland covering the NRM reforms.

Police Scotland and TARA are developing joint training to First Responders in Scotland, including those working in Criminal Justice Social Work. Police Scotland is also working with TARA to develop a Memorandum of Understanding regarding roles and responsibilities of each agency when engaging with potential victims of trafficking. 

Longer term outcomes for survivors of trafficking and exploitation will be explored.

A focus will remain on improving awareness of support amongst victims to encourage them to come forward and seek help.

“Mo” came to Migrant Help after disclosing to his reporting officer that he had been a victim of trafficking. He had been forced to work on a farm and in a car wash, and he had been moved around and monitored by the perpetrator. Mo had also been dependant on the trafficker for food and accommodation. 

After his disclosure, his NRM application was completed and he was released to a relative’s house in Glasgow from Dungavel. He received a positive reasonable grounds decision and began his supported reflection period. 

When Mo first came to Migrant Help, he was extremely nervous. He often repeated questions multiple times and it soon became clear that when he was stressed he struggled to retain the answers. Often, he would call on the way home from his appointments to double check what had been said. He was referred to The Anchor for a trauma assessment, but it was felt he did not need long-term input from them. 

He found the move into asylum support accommodation very stressful but with the support of his GP and Migrant Help he successfully made the transition. For the first couple of weeks in his new flat he was very reliant on Migrant Help, calling us often to double check even the simplest of things – however we knew that once he settled into a routine he would become much more self-sufficient. 

Receiving his conclusive grounds decision was also hard on the client. He had become used to having the safety net of Migrant Help support behind him and although he was very happy with the fact the Home Office believed his trafficking experience, he suddenly felt very isolated. 

However, he was supported to attend an appointment with his solicitor and given the details of his decision and the worry about it started to fade away.



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