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Modern Slavery: Prosecutions

Volume 646: debated on Thursday 6 September 2018

8. What steps the CPS is taking (a) domestically and (b) internationally to increase the effectiveness of prosecutions for modern slavery. (906704)

9. What recent discussions he has had with the CPS on the effectiveness of prosecutions in cases involving modern slavery. (906707)

The Director of Public Prosecutions and I are members of the Prime Minister’s taskforce on modern slavery, which aims to do more to bring perpetrators to justice and support victims both here and overseas. The Crown Prosecution Service has recently announced an increase in prosecutions for modern slavery, and I will meet the DPP further to discuss how that good work can continue.

I welcome the fact that the number of prosecutions has gone up, I think by 27%. Is the Solicitor General having discussions about how we treat young people who are involved in county lines? Will they be treated as criminals, or as the victims of, in many cases, modern slavery?

I know the hon. Lady takes a keen interest in this issue through her all-party group and in other work, and she hits the nail on the head when it comes to the difficult decisions that are sometimes made. I assure her that the typology on county lines that the CPS published only a few months ago has a particular focus on such issues. There will be times when a decision to prosecute must be made, but many of the people involved—particularly young people—are victims who need support.

In Scotland the police are alarmed by the rise in reports of potential human trafficking offences, and those individuals and gangs do not stop at the border. What discussions is the Solicitor General having with his counterparts north of the border to ensure that there is a UK-wide approach to this issue?

As a border MP, my hon. Friend knows the issue acutely. In February 2016 the Directors of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales and for Northern Ireland, and indeed the Lord Advocate for Scotland, met and pledged their commitment to providing a whole-of-UK approach to human trafficking and slavery. As a result, quarterly meetings are held at official level between the jurisdictions, and there is a regular exchange of information and best practice to make sure we get it right.

The chain of trafficking offences is often complex and runs across several jurisdictions. How are we working with other countries to increase the number of prosecutions?

We place a heavy emphasis on international work, and we are currently working with 25 Europe-based inquiries. We have 30 prosecutors in other countries who focus on this type of work, as well as on other types of crime. Our commitment is clear.

It has been pointed out to me that the Attorney General and the Solicitor General would make a very good singing duo, although any performance would have to take place outside the Chamber. I hope the Attorney General enjoyed his debut at the Dispatch Box as much as I did.