Commission in Scotland presents findings of its Inquiry into Human Trafficking

The Equality and Human Rights Commission will today launch the findings from its Inquiry into human trafficking in Scotland. Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Investigating Commissioner for the Inquiry, will present the final report in Edinburgh this afternoon.

The Commission undertook to inquire into the nature and extent of human trafficking in Scotland, described by Baroness Kennedy as ‘a human rights abuse of terrible consequences’.

The Inquiry focused on trafficking for the purposes of forced labour, domestic servitude and criminal exploitation, but more explicitly on commercial sexual exploitation, which Baroness 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 are 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.

Scotland has made some progress on tackling trafficking but lacks a comprehensive strategy to effectively deal with this crime.

Recommendations from the Inquiry include:

  • 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.

Kaliani Lyle, Equality & Human Rights Commission Scotland Commissioner said:
‘Human trafficking is one of the most severe human rights abuses in the modern world. It operates below the radar and is kept there through fear and deception. The experiences of those who are trafficked here are often nothing short of brutal and, in the main, they are carefully hidden from society. The responsibility for tackling trafficking should be shared across agencies, with governments, and with society itself. Our challenge is to work together to rid Scotland of this modern slavery and to put anti-trafficking firmly on the agenda of key regulators.’

Baroness Kennedy, Investigation Commissioner for the Inquiry, said:
‘Human trafficking is one of those pressing contemporary issues which speaks to the nature of our societies. It tests the value we attach to the humanity of others. That is why it is so important to develop effective strategies to combat trafficking. It speaks to who we are as a people. Confronting it involves collaboration. I am hoping that Scotland will pioneer a zero-tolerance approach to human trafficking, leading the way with new strategies, legislation, and the kinds of multi-agency cooperation that enables both the punishment of the traffickers and the identification and recovery of the victims; all underpinned by a comprehensive public awareness campaign about the true nature of this egregious human rights abuse.’

Ann Fehilly from the Glasgow Community and Safety Services’ TARA Project said:
'The findings provide an opportunity for Scotland to pioneer a strategic and victim-centred approach to ensure that anyone who suffers from this insidious abuse of human rights is afforded all the protection they need. GCSS is pleased there is a recommendation for all partners to focus on prevention but to do so will require tackling the demand created within Scotland. If we are able to ensure that protections are in place, then more prosecutions will follow, ensuring that Scotland sends a message to those who traffick and exploit vulnerable women that such abuses will not be tolerated.’

Jim Laird from Migrant Help said:
‘We welcome both the inquiry and the publication of it’s findings. As an organisation which supports the victims of human trafficking and who were pivotal to the inquiry, we hope that the publication of the report will help build on much of the good work already being undertaken in Scotland and lead to even closer cooperation between agencies involved in combating trafficking and to better support and protection of victims’


For further information on the Inquiry and for press enquiries contact the Equality and Human Rights Commission: Deborah Cowan on 0141 228 5938 or 07970 787 234

Notes to editors

  • Download the full report PDF
  • Download the summary report PDF
  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission.
  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights.
  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission will enforce equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encourage compliance with the Human Rights Act. It will also give advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.

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