HUMAN trafficking has been described as a modern day form of slavery by Scotland’s top legal official.
Victims are “abused, exploited and dehumanised” the Scottish prosecution service has said today, on EU Anti Trafficking Day.
Speaking at a one-day conference at Hampden Park in Glasgow Lord Advocate the Rt Hon Frank Mulholland QC said: “Human Trafficking is modern day slavery. It is a global problem which knows no borders.
“It subjugates vulnerable women and men, often very young girls who are made to work in the sex industry or exploited in hard labour for a pittance.
“Complete control is exerted on the victims by means of threats and retention of travel and identity documents.
“Scotland is and will remain a bad place to do this type of business.”
Representatives from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the Scottish Government, Police Scotland and victim support organisations gathered at the Human Trafficking in Scotland conference to debate how best to tackle human trafficking in Scotland and ensure the country’s prosecutors have the skills and knowledge to deal with this “disgusting crime”, said Mr Mulholland.
Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill, said: “Human trafficking is a heinous crime which we will not tolerate in Scotland.
“That’s why we are working closely with relevant partners to share information, make our country a hostile place for traffickers and better identify and support victims.
“We have made progress on meeting the actions agreed at last year’s Human Trafficking Summit, including legislative proposals for a human trafficking statutory aggravation.
“This is an international and cross border crime which can only be solved through working in partnership.
“The UK Government intends to bring forward a Modern Slavery Bill and we are exploring the possibility, with them, of that Bill covering Scottish interests.”
Included on the conference programme were contributions from Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People; GRETA (the Group of Experts on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings; TARA (Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance); Migrant Help; and Police Scotland.
Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham from Police Scotland said: “Through the work of our specialist National Human Trafficking Unit we are absolutely focused on disrupting and detecting those who orchestrate these crimes - often via complex, sophisticated networks - and importantly, working with partners to support people who are targeted in this way, subjected to threats, intimidation, extortion and violence and exploited for criminal profit.
“We are ensuring that our local policing teams across the country are also aware of the issue and have access to the specialist support needed to deal with such incidents.”
The first convictions for human trafficking in Scotland were in September 2011 when Stephen Craig and Sarah Ashleigh Beukan pleaded guilty at Glasgow Sheriff Court to trafficking within the UK for the purposes of prostitution and were later sentenced to 44 months and 18 months in prison, respectively.
There have been a number of other prosecutions for human trafficking in Scotland since.