Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy – Consultation
In October 2015 the Scottish Parliament passed the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015, the first dedicated Scottish legislation on this issue. The Act created the offences of human trafficking and of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour, with a maximum life sentence possible for those convicted of committing these crimes.
Human trafficking is about the illegal trade of human beings, both adults and children, for exploitation. Exploitation can take many forms. For example cannabis cultivation, work in the hospitality industries for little or no pay and in poor conditions, being forced to commit benefit fraud for others’ gain, domestic servitude, commercial sexual exploitation, sham marriage and organ removal. These are only examples and there are many others that could be listed.
Slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour are defined in terms of Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Although no exchange of control over the individual takes place, the victims are still treated as the property of another, obliged to provide services through the use of coercion. The term covers all work or service which is exacted from any person under the threat of any penalty. These offences happen in Scotland, within the UK and internationally and affect people from a range of nationalities and ethnic backgrounds.
The Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy is a direct result of the 2015 Act, which requires Scottish Ministers to prepare such a Strategy. The Act requires that the Strategy sets out such actions, arrangements and outcomes that Ministers consider appropriate in relation to conduct which constitutes an offence under the Act.
The draft Strategy on which we are currently consulting seeks to bring together and build on all of the valuable work already undertaken by the Scottish Government and its partners in the public, private and third sectors, to provide coherent and effective support for victims and take action against perpetrators.
It sets out the approach that the Scottish Government and its partners, working with others in the UK and internationally, will take to address human trafficking and slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour.
The draft Strategy has been developed in partnership with stakeholders over the past months. Our shared vision is a straightforward (although not simple) one – to eliminate human trafficking and exploitation. The vision reflects the fact that, although the main focus and influence of this Strategy is within Scotland, it seeks to contribute to the effort to tackle human trafficking and exploitation across the UK and beyond and we believe that the actions set out in the Strategy will help us to move towards fulfilment of that vision.
The draft Strategy cross-refers with other relevant strategy and policy documents, including, for example, Equally Safe: Scotland’s strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls (2016); Scotland’s National Action Plan to tackle Child Sexual Exploitation (2015); and Scotland’s Serious and Organised Crime Strategy (2015).