Scotland politics

Charities give evidence to MSPs on human trafficking

Prostitutes Image copyright PA
Image caption In 2013 there were 55 human trafficking victims identified in Scotland.

MSPs have been taking evidence on new legislation to tackle human trafficking in Scotland.

The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill aims to clarify and strengthen the law.

It will introduce a new single offence and increase the maximum penalty for offenders to life imprisonment.

Holyrood's justice committee heard from Barnardo's Scotland, the Scottish Refugee Council, Abolition Scotland and Victim Support Scotland.

In 2013 there were 55 trafficking victims identified in Scotland.

Enhanced rights

Home Office research has suggested there could be between 10,000 and 13,000 victims of slavery, forced labour and human trafficking in the UK.

In March last year, the Scottish government announced that it was bringing forward a new bill to combat trafficking and exploitation.

If passed, the new bill will also seek to enhance the rights of victims of trafficking, with access to immediate help and support based on their individual needs.

It will give prosecutors the discretion not to punish victims forced to commit crime against their will - including those trafficked into the country and then forced into cannabis factories.

Scottish Ministers will also be required to work with other bodies to publish and keep under review a Scottish Anti-Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy.

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