New offence carries life imprisonment for human trafficking

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson MSP
Michael Matheson

A new law allowing life sentences for traffickers will come into effect on 31 May 2016.

The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015 strengthens Scotland’s efforts to tackle trafficking and provides support for victims.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson, today laid an Order in the Scottish Parliament setting out the date for introduction of the new single offence of human trafficking and also a new offence of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour.

From 31 May, police and the courts will have new powers to confiscate and seize property used for human trafficking.

The act also allows the courts to impose longer sentences for other crimes which involve trafficking, or where trafficking is committed by a public official, or the victim is a child.

Mr Matheson said: “Human trafficking and exploitation brings misery for its victims and we will not tolerate this heinous crime in Scotland. Bringing in a new offence for trafficking will ensure those who seek to peddle human misery can face the toughest possible penalties while also providing greater protections for their victims.

“We are clarifying and strengthening the criminal law around trafficking and exploitation, and giving police and prosecutors further tools to track down and prosecute criminals.

“We know that legislation alone will not stop trafficking. That’s why we are also developing a Human Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy and building on the work already being undertaken to increase public awareness, training for frontline staff and engagement with businesses to help spot the signs of potential trafficking and exploitation.

“We are sending a strong signal that Scotland is a hostile place for those who seek to profit from human suffering and we will not tolerate the trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable adults and children.”