Human Trafficking and Exploitation

Human trafficking and exploitation are complex and hidden crimes, as well as abuses of human rights and dignity.  They are not only international issues, nor are they confined to our larger towns and cities, but can and do affect communities all over Scotland.  The many purposes for which people are exploited – including commercial sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, criminal exploitation (for example benefit fraud and forced drugs cultivation), domestic servitude, sham marriages and organ trafficking – are continually evolving.  Scottish local authorities are committed to contributing to tackling these issues and supporting victims of trafficking and exploitation.

In 2015 the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015 received Royal Assent.  In May 2017 the Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy (PDF) was laid before Parliament.  The Strategy sets out the Scottish Government's approach and commitment to tackling human trafficking by supporting and protecting victims, disrupting the activities of perpetrators and addressing the conditions which foster trafficking, both in Scotland and elsewhere.  COSLA is supporting Scottish local authorities in developing collaborative approaches to contribute to the Strategy.  COSLA also chairs Action Area 1 within the strategy – this focuses on identifying victims and supporting them to safety and recovery.  In autumn of 2017 as part of a public awareness campaign the Scottish Government commission the following advert (youtube). The first Annual Progress Report (PDF) on the Strategy was published in June 2018 and sets out what has so far been achieved in partnership across Scotland. There will be significant activity in this policy area in 2018/19.


A key priority of Action Area 1 and the Strategy is to support the identication of victims, to do this there needs to be greater awareness across society of trafficking and exploitation along with clear routes to report concerns. To support this the group have developed some awareness raising and training materials, these materials are free of charge and are available below. The presentation is intended to offer accurate and consistent advice for both professional and public audiences. Additionally, there is a document addressing the common myths surrounding trafficking and exploitation.

Human Trafficking - Awareness Raising Presentation (PPT)

Human Trafficking - Common Myths (doc)

Feedback using this form (doc) on the above resources would be welcomed and should be sent to: 


Action Area 2 of the Strategy focuses on identifying perpetrators and disrupting their activity.  One areas identified for improvement is for successful actions to be publicised, to send the message that Scotland is a country that is hostile to human trafficking and exploitation.  In order to achieve this aim, Scottish Government has been working with stakeholders to create a Human Trafficking and Exploitation Newsletter.  These can be accessed below:

October 2017 Newsletter (PDF)

March 2018 Newsletter (PDF)

September 2018 Newsletter (PDF)