Human Trafficking

Oral Answers to Questions — Attorney-General – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 5th July 2011.

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Photo of Michael Connarty Michael Connarty Labour, Linlithgow and East Falkirk 2:30 pm, 5th July 2011

What steps the Crown Prosecution Service is taking to support victims of human trafficking to participate in criminal proceedings.

Photo of Susan Elan Jones Susan Elan Jones Labour, Clwyd South

What steps the Crown Prosecution Service is taking to support victims of human trafficking to participate in criminal proceedings.

Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier The Solicitor-General

The CPS is taking a number of steps to encourage victims of human trafficking to support criminal proceedings, including the publication of a new public policy statement setting out its prosecution policy and how it will support victims. As I said to my hon. Friend Tom Brake a moment ago, the Home Secretary will shortly publish her Department’s human trafficking strategy. The CPS is also working with non-governmental organisations to develop further measures to assist and support victims.

Photo of Michael Connarty Michael Connarty Labour, Linlithgow and East Falkirk

I am very heartened by the general replies and that specific reply from the Solicitor-General on this question, but we are aware of reported cases of magistrates saying to a 14-year-old girl who had been trafficked and found in a cannabis factory that she had clearly made a lifestyle choice. Did the Attorney-General give any evidence, or a submission, to the Home Secretary in the upcoming review? If not, why not? If so, will he place a copy of his contribution in the Library for us all to read?

Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier The Solicitor-General

It would not be sensible for me to comment on unattributable, or unattributed, remarks by unidentified magistrates. If what the hon. Gentleman suggests was said in that case was said, it was clearly unwise. The Law Officers’ Department did make a contribution towards the thinking behind the Home Secretary’s human trafficking strategy. The hon. Gentleman will be able to read the strategy in full when it is published next week, and it will doubtless refer to all sorts of sources.

Photo of Susan Elan Jones Susan Elan Jones Labour, Clwyd South

The US State Department’s 2011 “Trafficking in Persons Report” contains many things about the UK that hon. Members would find alarming, including the following quotation:

“Some potential and confirmed trafficking victims, including children, were prosecuted and imprisoned for committing offenses as a direct result of being trafficked.”

What does the Solicitor-General propose to do to stop that happening?

Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier The Solicitor-General

As I said in answer to the question from Michael Connarty and in connection with an earlier question, the Crown Prosecution Service public policy statement makes it clear that those who are trafficked—those who are victims of the trafficking—should not be prosecuted.

Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough

We are having rather lovely weather at the moment, and this spring seems to be going on for a very long time. Did the Solicitor-General let it slip that spring was going to end next week, and are we actually going to see the trafficking policy next week? If so, can he confirm that an oral statement will be given, rather than a written one?

Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier The Solicitor-General

On the latter point I cannot give a confirmation, but on the earlier point I think I can.

Photo of Gavin Shuker Gavin Shuker Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Paying for sex with a trafficked woman is a criminal offence under section 14 of the Policing and Crime Act 2009. What steps are the Government taking to ensure that section 14 is fully used by the police and Crown Prosecution Service? Will the Solicitor-General confirm that he is considering a pause in issuing CPS guidance, which could be a wasted opportunity at this stage?

Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier The Solicitor-General

The Crown Prosecution Service assesses the evidence given to it by the police. If that evidence passes the evidential test and it is in the public interest to prosecute, those who commit such crimes will be prosecuted. Beyond that, I am not sure that I can usefully help the hon. Gentleman other than by repeating myself.