Human Trafficking: It’s Happening Here and Now

Criminal lawyers in Scotland are seeing an increase in prosecutions involving human trafficking.

Scotland introduced new legislation to bolster the country’s position in relation to human trafficking in 2016. The new legislation consolidates previous law by having a single catch-all offence for trafficking. It has also created a new crime of slavery.

The maximum penalty for those convicted of trafficking or slavery under the new legislation is life imprisonment. Under the previous legislation, the maximum penalty was 14 years.

The Scottish Government have published a Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy with three main themes:

  1. Identify victims and return them to safety.
  2. Identify perpetrators and stop them
  3. Prevent future trafficking and slavery

Justice Secretary Micheal Mathieson has said;

“Generating awareness that the exploitation of adults and children is happening in Scotland today is key to bringing it to an end”

It has been widely reported in the news this week that victims of Human Trafficking are being found not only in our cities, but our towns and villages. They are working in local businesses and being exploited on our doorsteps.

Specialists have been in action at Glasgow Airport intercepting victims of human trafficking before it is too late. The Home Officer Border Control Team have a difficult task in safeguarding vulnerable people, usually destined for Scotland’s sex industry.

Tod&Mitchell welcomes the Lord Advocate’s guidelines on the prosecution of victims of human trafficking. These guidelines find the most common offences committed by the victims of human trafficking to be drug crimes, theft and housebreaking. There is a strong presumption against the prosecution of these individuals given their circumstances. Prosecutors must be alert to this issue and actively identify persons that appear to be victims of trafficking.