Scotland's new law against human trafficking will come into effect on 31 May 2016, ministers have announced.

The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015 provides a potential life sentence for traffickers and also guarantees support for victims.

In addition to the new single offence of human trafficking, the Act also sets out a new offence of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour. Trafficking committed by a public official, or where the victim is a child, is likely to attract severer penalties.

From 31 May, police and the courts will have new powers to confiscate and seize property used for human trafficking.

The Lord Advocate will be required to issue instructions about the factors prosecutors must consider before deciding whether to prosecute a person who may have been compelled to carry out a crime as a victim of human trafficking.

Other measures relating to support for victims, including child victims, are being developed and will be laid in due course.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson commented: “We are clarifying and strengthening the criminal law around trafficking and exploitation, and giving police and prosecutors further tools to track down and prosecute criminals.

“We know that legislation alone will not stop trafficking. That’s why we are also developing a Human Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy and building on the work already being undertaken to increase public awareness, training for frontline staff and engagement with businesses to help spot the signs of potential trafficking and exploitation."