Inquiry into Human Trafficking in Scotland

Image of barbed wireIn 2010, the Commission undertook to inquire into the nature and extent of human trafficking in Scotland.

On the 28th of November 2011, the Commission published the findings and recommendations of its Inquiry. 

The Inquiry focused on trafficking for the purposes of forced labour, domestic servitude and criminal exploitation, but more explicitly on commercial sexual exploitation, which Investigating Commissioner Baroness Helena Kennedy called ‘the most prevalent and pernicious manifestation of human enslavement’. 

The findings led to a series of ten recommendations aimed at those with responsibilities to prevent and tackle human trafficking in Scotland.  The recommendations were designed to improve responses to human trafficking, put victims needs at the centre of the issue and make Scotland a more hostile environment for traffickers.    

The report found that: 

  • Human trafficking is a serious violation of human rights, and a modern form of slavery. It feeds on poverty and inequality, and it is a crime.
  • Human trafficking exists throughout Scotland, with victims found not only in the sex industry, but in hotels, restaurants, farms and domestic homes.
  • Human trafficking in Scotland arises from the exploitation of vulnerable victims, demand for cheap labour, and profit-driven organised crime.
  • There is little public or professional awareness of trafficking and insufficient cooperation by agencies, leading to an intelligence gap on traffickers. 

Recommendations from the Inquiry included:

  • Scotland should pioneer a strategic, victim centred approach to trafficking, focussing on human rights and crime prevention. This should be in place before the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
  • Scotland needs to raise awareness of trafficking issues so that individuals and agencies know what trafficking looks like, where it happens, and what to do about it.
  • Agencies must share information more systematically to improve performance on gathering intelligence, successful prosecutions, and supporting victims. 
  • There is a case for a new Human Trafficking Act, which would address the crime of trafficking directly, and which would enable more prosecutions of traffickers.
  • Scotland needs end-to-end services for victims, with practical assistance accessible wherever a victim is found.

Follow On Report to the Inquiry into Human Trafficking In Scotland

On the 6th of March 2013, the Commission published the Follow On Report to the Inquiry into Human Trafficking In Scotland

Download: Human Trafficking Inquiry in Scotland  - Follow On Report (2013)

Related information

EHRC Response to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, May 2014

EHRC and NIHRC Joint statement to the Human Rights Council on trafficking, April 2014

Commission response to the Human Trafficking Scotland Bill consultation, December 2013

Commission response to the report of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking May 2013

Scottish Government action on human trafficking

Scottish Government Trafficking in Human Beings Summit, October 2012

Last Updated: 08 Jul 2014