Trafficking bill

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Scotland can learn from Lord Morrow’s anti-trafficking act in Northern Ireland. His trafficking legislation has victims firmly at its heart.

While much of the Scottish Government’s bill is welcome there’s definite room for improvement and Northern Ireland’s trafficking laws provide a template to learn from.

The most glaring omission in the Scottish Government’s new Human Trafficking Bill is the failure to criminalise paying for sex. This is the principal driver behind trafficking and if you don’t deal with it, there’s a danger the bill will fall short of what it could be.

It’s vital that we tackle the demand for paid sex robustly in law because the evidence overwhelmingly suggests it is one of the principal causes behind the horror of modern-day human slavery.

I urge MSPs to follow Northern Ireland’s lead and give serious consideration to introducing a ban here in Scotland. We do not want to risk a situation where our more relaxed laws mean a sudden rise in sex tourism as people travel across from Northern Ireland to take advantage of the Scottish Government’s failure to deal with demand for paid sex.

(Dr) Gordon Macdonald

CARE for Scotland 
parliamentary officer