by Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf
Human trafficking is a stain on modern society. We have given Scotland’s police, prosecutors and the courts new powers to tackle those who prey on the vulnerable and sustain this nefarious trade in human misery.
It is often an international and cross-border crime which can be challenging to investigate, requiring close working between partners both within Scotland and beyond – something which is threatened by the UK Government’s Brexit plans and the threat they pose to cross-border cooperation on criminal justice issues.
We are clear that human trafficking will not be tolerated in Scotland. Through the Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy we are working with partners to improve identification and support of victims, and to tackle those who exploit people in this way. We are also acting to address the conditions that allow trafficking to take place.
Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service are committed to disrupting criminality and removing the profits of those involved in this hideous activity. This kind of intervention can be particularly effective in discouraging traffickers, who cause terrible human suffering purely to increase their own profit.
This Friday, 18 October, is Anti-Slavery Day, when partners across the country will reassert their commitment to tackling human trafficking. On that day we will launch a review of the Trafficking Strategy, including a public survey to seek views on how we should focus our collective efforts during the next three years.
Our work to raise awareness is taking effect: in the first six months of 2019 there was a 74% increase in the number of victims identified in Scotland compared with the same period last year. We are getting better at rooting out this despicable crime where it occurs and moving people out of exploitation and into appropriate support. But there is always more to be done, and I look forward to working with our partners towards our shared goal of eliminating human trafficking and exploitation.
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