Trafficking and exploitation strategy: third annual progress report

Annual progress report and review of the trafficking and exploitation strategy and a report setting out implementation progress in 2019 to 2020.


The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015[1] ("the Act") introduced new offences, gave police and prosecutors additional powers to tackle traffickers, raised the maximum penalty for trafficking to life imprisonment, and placed support for victims on a statutory basis. It also required that Scottish Ministers develop and publish a Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy[2] ("the Strategy"), and this was done in May 2017.

Under Section 36 of the Act, Scottish Ministers must also review the Strategy within three years of its publication and following that review must publish a report on the review, "including in particular Ministers' assessment of the extent to which the Strategy has been complied with," and "may revise the Strategy."

This is the report of the first statutory review of the Strategy. However, on publication of the Strategy, the Scottish Government undertook to publish annual progress reports on implementation of the Strategy. One element of this report is a progress report on the third year of implementation, and therefore in order to get a full picture of the work done by the Scottish Government and its partners to implement the Strategy, this publication should be considered alongside the first[3] and second[4] progress reports.

In order to assess the extent to which the Strategy has been complied with, this report includes a section (headed Delivering the Strategy) which sets out what has been done against each of the specific undertakings in the Strategy. These were grouped as short term, medium term and longer term actions, and it is important to note that the long term vision set out in the Strategy – to eliminate human trafficking and exploitation – remains as relevant now as it was in 2017. While significant progress has been made, much more still needs to be done before this goal is attained.

The Strategy

The Strategy was developed through a process of co-production. Extensive consultation with partners, stakeholder organisations and the general public was undertaken, including a formal written consultation and engagement events across the country. A series of focus groups were held with survivors of human trafficking to ensure that their voices were reflected, and that they had an opportunity to influence the policies in the Strategy.

The Strategy was published on 30 May 2017, setting out three key action areas in which progress needed to be made:

  • Identify victims and support them to safety and recovery;
  • Identify perpetrators and disrupt their activity; and
  • Address the conditions, both local and global, that foster trafficking and exploitation.

The Strategy also identified a fourth key area of work around child victims of trafficking and exploitation.

The final section of the Strategy provided a range of measures against which progress could be measured, and undertook that progress would be reported on an annual basis, placing these measures in a narrative context and reflecting the voices of victims.

Three principles underpinned the development of the Strategy, and these have also been central to the implementation process:

  • Focus on victims;
  • Partnership working; and
  • Continuous improvement.

Implementation Structures

The oversight structures that were established for the development of the Strategy have continued in place, with a shift in remit to managing implementation and working towards achieving the outcomes set out in the Strategy.

The Strategic Oversight Group is chaired by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, and includes the Minister for Childcare and Early Years, the Lord Advocate and senior representation from a range of key partners. This group normally meets on an annual basis.

The Strategy Implementation Group is chaired by Scottish Government officials with representation from key partners, including the chairs of the three Action Area Implementation Groups and the Child Trafficking Strategy Group. This group meets on a bi-annual basis, or more frequently if required.

For each of the three Action Areas, an Implementation Group takes responsibility for driving forward actions and meeting the outcomes set out in the Strategy. A Child Trafficking Strategy Group was established on a similar basis. The Implementation Groups meet quarterly.

Included throughout this progress report are illustrative examples of collaborative work in Scotland to address human trafficking and its impacts, as well as quotations from survivors of trafficking which have been provided via Migrant Help, Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance and The Anchor Service.

Laid before the Scottish Parliament by the Scottish Ministers under section 36(5)(d)(ii) of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015.

May 2020 SG/2020/84.



Back to top