Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015
This high profile legislation which was passed in October 2015 fully came into effect on 31st May 2016.
Any offence of forced labour or keeping persons in servitude as well as human trafficking can now be penalised by way of substantial custodial sentences including life imprisonment. The courts also have powers to confiscate and seize property used in such activities.
There has been significant high profile coverage in relation to such criminal activities and whilst thankfully in Scotland, such crimes appear to have been few in numbers to date, any new prosecutions will doubtless attract high media attention and could cause damaging impacts on businesses who are in any way connected to same.
Exploitation within the sexual industries will be an area of focus for the police as well as within the general labour market. Interestingly, the Scottish Government have listed factory works, agriculture, the food and hospitality industries, care work and the construction sectors together with flower sales and sales of CDs and DVDs as potential areas for scrutiny.
Within the domestic environment, there are also concerns for persons being tied to servitudal work in the childcare, cooking and cleaning sectors.
Persons with any information or suspicions on human trafficking or exploitation are actively encouraged to call the Police who will investigate.
Whilst the Modern Slavery Act 2015 also imposes obligations on certain types of companies to produce annual statements, it is clear that this is an area of crime where the Scottish Government are determined to come down hard upon offenders.
Enforcement of any procedures to prevent human slavery and exploitation is always to be welcomed but it is important that none of us are inadvertently linked to such activity without making proper checks and safeguards.
Common sense will always be a key watchword but anyone wishing advice or having concerns on this matter should make due enquiry and if necessary take legal advice.
For more information on this, please contact Martin Sinclair or call 01224 632 464.