Child Protection Guidance 2021

Part 4: Specific support needs and concerns 189 National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021 Version 1.0 September 2021 Child trafficking and child criminal exploitation 4.332 Article 35 of the UNCRC requires public authorities to take all appropriate measures to prevent the abduction of, the sale of or traffick in children for any purpose or in any form; and Article 36 requires public authorities to protect the child against all other forms of exploitation prejudicial to any aspects of the child’s welfare. 4.333 Definition. The legal definition of the offence of human trafficking in Scotland is set out in the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015 (‘the 2015 Act’). A person commits an offence of human trafficking if a ‘relevant action’ is taken with a view to another person being exploited (section 1). The offence of human trafficking is aggravated by being committed against a child (as defined in the 2015 Act as a person under the age of 18 years old) (section 6). 4.334 Relevant action. Section 1(2) of the 2015 Act defines ‘relevant action’ as any of the following: recruiting another person; transporting or transferring another person; harbouring or receiving another person; exchanging or transferring control over another person; or arranging or facilitating any of those actions. It is irrelevant whether the person consents to any part of the action. Travel between two places is not a requirement for an offence of human trafficking to have taken place. 4.335 Exploitation. The 2015 Act (section 3) describes what constitutes exploitation for the purposes of the offence of human trafficking. The following are examples of exploitation: • prostitution and sexual exploitation • criminal exploitation • slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour • securing services and benefits • financial exploitation/benefit fraud • removal of organs • debt bondage • begging 4.336 Child trafficking and exploitation is abuse , and an immediate child protection response is required, and an inter-agency referral discussion (IRD) should be undertaken when there is reason to believe a child may have been trafficked or exploited. 4.337 Awareness and recognition. A child may not realise, divulge or agree that they have been trafficked or exploited. The child may be: • at risk of being moved, especially when inquiries begin • threatened with personal or family harm if they speak out • unaware that they are a victim of trafficking 4.338 Trafficking occurs both within Scotland and between Scotland and other countries. UK children can be the victims of trafficking. It is estimated that around 40% of unaccompanied children have experienced trafficking and exploitation. Current figures for the National Referral Mechanism (which is a UK-wide process for identifying and referring potential victims of trafficking and ensuring they receive the appropriate support) for England and Wales indicate that the highest number of referrals are for UK children who have been internally trafficked. The number of referrals from Scotland for UK children is lower but is growing.