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Human Trafficking

Volume 530: debated on Tuesday 5 July 2011

3. What steps the Crown Prosecution Service is taking to support victims of human trafficking to participate in criminal proceedings. (63519)

4. What steps the Crown Prosecution Service is taking to support victims of human trafficking to participate in criminal proceedings. (63520)

The CPS is taking a number of steps to encourage victims of human trafficking to support criminal proceedings, including the publication of a new public policy statement setting out its prosecution policy and how it will support victims. As I said to my hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake) a moment ago, the Home Secretary will shortly publish her Department’s human trafficking strategy. The CPS is also working with non-governmental organisations to develop further measures to assist and support victims.

I am very heartened by the general replies and that specific reply from the Solicitor-General on this question, but we are aware of reported cases of magistrates saying to a 14-year-old girl who had been trafficked and found in a cannabis factory that she had clearly made a lifestyle choice. Did the Attorney-General give any evidence, or a submission, to the Home Secretary in the upcoming review? If not, why not? If so, will he place a copy of his contribution in the Library for us all to read?

It would not be sensible for me to comment on unattributable, or unattributed, remarks by unidentified magistrates. If what the hon. Gentleman suggests was said in that case was said, it was clearly unwise. The Law Officers’ Department did make a contribution to the thinking behind the Home Secretary’s human trafficking strategy. The hon. Gentleman will be able to read the strategy in full when it is published next week, and it will doubtless refer to all sorts of sources.

The US State Department’s 2011 “Trafficking in Persons Report” contains many things about the UK that hon. Members would find alarming, including the following quotation:

“Some potential and confirmed trafficking victims, including children, were prosecuted and imprisoned for committing offenses as a direct result of being trafficked.”

What does the Solicitor-General propose to do to stop that happening?

As I said in answer to the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Michael Connarty), and in connection with an earlier question, the Crown Prosecution Service public policy statement makes it clear that those who are trafficked—those who are victims of the trafficking—should not be prosecuted.

We are having rather lovely weather at the moment, and this spring seems to be going on for a very long time. Did the Solicitor-General let it slip that spring was going to end next week, and are we actually going to see the trafficking policy next week? If so, can he confirm that an oral statement will be given, rather than a written one?

Paying for sex with a trafficked woman is a criminal offence under section 14 of the Policing and Crime Act 2009. What steps are the Government taking to ensure that section 14 is fully used by the police and Crown Prosecution Service? Will the Solicitor-General confirm that he is considering a pause in issuing CPS guidance, which could be a wasted opportunity at this stage?

The Crown Prosecution Service assesses the evidence given to it by the police. If that evidence passes the evidential test and it is in the public interest to prosecute, those who commit such crimes will be prosecuted. Beyond that, I am not sure that I can usefully help the hon. Gentleman other than by repeating myself.