Lord advocate releases draft instructions for prosecutors on human trafficking victims’ offences
The lord advocate, Frank Mulholland QC has produced draft guidelines for prosecutors on alleged offences committed by possible human trafficking victims.
Mr Mulholland states in his letter to the Scottish parliament’s justice committee that a “strong presumption against prosecution” should be in place in such cases.
He cited as factors that might indicate someone is the victim of trafficking an absence of employment history in Scotland and facts such as not having keys or a bank card.
The instructions are being looked at as the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill makes its way through the parliament.
Mr Mulholland also stated there should be a “strong presumption” against prosecuting children aged 17 or under if that child is a “credible victim” of trafficking.
Adults deemed credible victims will avoid prosecution if they satisfy two tests: first, that they were “compelled” to undertake the offence and, secondly, that this is “directly attributable” to their being a victim of human trafficking .
But serious crimes, including violence and sexual offences, may rebut the presumption, the instructions add.
The instructions also provide for situations where evidence of potential trafficking emerges after a case has commenced.
They state: “Where a case has already been marked and commenced and information comes to light which suggests that an accused person may be a victim of human trafficking it is important that steps are taken to adjourn on going proceedings for a suitable period until investigations can be completed.
“This applies to all cases both pre and post-conviction.”
Over the coming weeks, the UK anti-slavery commissioner, Kevin Hyland and the European anti-trafficking coordinator, Myria Vassiliadou will be consulted on the draft instructions for prosecutors.