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Human Trafficking

Volume 560: debated on Tuesday 26 March 2013

2. What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of prosecutions for human trafficking and related offences; and if he will make a statement. (149746)

As a member of the interdepartmental ministerial group on human trafficking, I keep the effectiveness of prosecutions for that very serious form of crime under review. Wherever possible, the Crown Prosecution Service brings prosecutions for human trafficking or other related offences.

Has the Solicitor-General asked for advice on the letter signed by a dozen charities on 28 April, which predicts that when the EU trafficking directive comes into force on 6 April the UK will be in breach of the following: the protection of victims during criminal procedures, access to compensation and legal assistance, and the provision of a guardian for trafficked children during legal proceedings? What is he going to do about that?

As the hon. Lady will know—I hope she will forgive me—we do not, as Law Officers, explain when and where we have given advice. Her point is very important, however. Victims of human trafficking need to be identified and it is important that they should not be prosecuted or treated disrespectfully once that is known. That is one of the points being discussed in the interdepartmental ministerial group and she is right to highlight it.

My hon. Friend referred to the interdepartmental ministerial group. Is not one of the problems that there are lots of different Acts of Parliament? Would there be any merit in pulling all the different Acts together in a consolidation Act on modern day slavery?

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for his work in this area. It is possible to consider putting a number of laws into a consolidating statute, but the problem is that we tend as a House of Commons to say, “We have these laws. Do we want to spend time consolidating them when we might have other matters to deal with?” Taking such an action was recommended in the recent report from the Centre for Social Justice, however. I have discussed it with the authors and the interdepartmental ministerial group will consider it.

Northern Ireland has had a number of convictions for human trafficking, and there are cases pending. Legislation will soon be introduced in the Northern Ireland Assembly by my colleague, Lord Morrow. Will the Solicitor-General outline the co-operation across all regions of the United Kingdom to tackle human trafficking?

As the hon. Gentleman will know, there has been considerable co-operation and co-ordination of effort, particularly over intelligence and how those offences can be disrupted. Of course, there is an issue about the new National Crime Agency and exactly how it will operate—he will be aware of the situation and the ongoing discussions. It is important that there is that co-ordination of effort, which happens across the United Kingdom and the wider world, in trying to tackle the problem.