In January 2023, the Modern Slavery PEC was invited by the Scottish Government to contribute to a review of their Human Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy. By law, the Scottish Government must review their Strategy every three years in consultation with people or groups for whom the Strategy is of interest. Once the review is complete, Ministers decide whether the Strategy should be revised.
The Scottish Strategy is broadly organised across three categories, or Action Areas:
- Victim identification and support
- Perpetrator identification and prosecution
- Identification and prosecution, addressing the conditions that foster trafficking and exploitation.
The Modern Slavery PEC was invited to comment on Action Area 3 by responding to a questionnaire, which we submitted to the Scottish Government on March 3rd, 2023. Our submission drew on evidence from research and policy briefs funded and published by the Modern Slavery PEC. Because we’ve funded a significant amount of research on identification and support, we also included evidence and recommendations for Action Area 1.
Some of our recommendations to the Scottish Government included to:
- Reframe the Strategy so that prevention initiatives underpin all Action Areas, to identify and seize opportunities to prevent harm throughout the identification, support, and prosecution processes. This includes, e.g., a focus on identifying victims as early as possible.
- Revisit the scope and focus of the Strategy’s desired outcomes, e.g., the Strategy’s outcome on research is currently limited to investigating how trafficking affects Scotland, but could be expanded to include research on the effectiveness of prevention activities and policies, as well as the drivers of trafficking and exploitation in Scotland.
- Consider and incorporate the impact of changes that have occurred in Scotland and globally since 2017 (such as post-Brexit legislative and policy developments, and the Covid-19 pandemic) as well as the changing nature of NRM referrals in Scotland and the other UK nations.
- Commit to consistently and meaningfully engaging with people with lived experience of trafficking and exploitation in any revision of the Strategy, and in policymaking more widely.
- Generate and publish data to build a more comprehensive picture of trafficking and exploitation in Scotland. This includes publishing detailed data on duty to notify referrals, once the duty is commenced, such as the reasons that adults give for opting not to enter the NRM.
Members of the Modern Slavery PEC core team meet with staff from the Scottish Government regularly to discuss PEC-funded research, and we will continue this engagement as the Government’s Strategy review progresses