Legislation to tackle human trafficking in Scotland comes into force today, 31 May.
Under the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015, those convicted of human trafficking or slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour face a possible life sentence in prison.
Police and the courts also have new powers to confiscate and seize property used for human trafficking. Courts will also be able to impose longer sentences for other crimes which involve trafficking, where trafficking is committed by a public official, or when the victim is a child.
The Act requires the Lord Advocate 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.
It also includes measures to provide support for victims of trafficking, including child victims. These are being developed and will be laid in due course.
Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson commented: “The measures coming into force today send the strongest possible message that those who seek to profit from human suffering will not be tolerated in Scotland."
He added: “However, legislation alone will not stop trafficking, which is why we are developing a Human Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy to build on the work already being undertaken to increase public awareness and help businesses and staff spot the signs of potential trafficking and exploitation.”