Modern Slavery: Prosecutions

Attorney General – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6th September 2018.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East 12:00 am, 6th September 2018

What steps the CPS is taking (a) domestically and (b) internationally to increase the effectiveness of prosecutions for modern slavery.

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont Conservative, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

What recent discussions he has had with the CPS on the effectiveness of prosecutions in cases involving modern slavery.

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

The Director of Public Prosecutions and I are members of the Prime Minister’s taskforce on modern slavery, which aims to do more to bring perpetrators to justice and support victims both here and overseas. The Crown Prosecution Service has recently announced an increase in prosecutions for modern slavery, and I will meet the DPP further to discuss how that good work can continue.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East

I welcome the fact that the number of prosecutions has gone up, I think by 27%. Is the Solicitor General having discussions about how we treat young people who are involved in county lines? Will they be treated as criminals, or as the victims of, in many cases, modern slavery?

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

I know the hon. Lady takes a keen interest in this issue through her all-party group and in other work, and she hits the nail on the head when it comes to the difficult decisions that are sometimes made. I assure her that the typology on county lines that the CPS published only a few months ago has a particular focus on such issues. There will be times when a decision to prosecute must be made, but many of the people involved—particularly young people—are victims who need support.

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont Conservative, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

In Scotland the police are alarmed by the rise in reports of potential human trafficking offences, and those individuals and gangs do not stop at the border. What discussions is the Solicitor General having with his counterparts north of the border to ensure that there is a UK-wide approach to this issue?

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

As a border MP, my hon. Friend knows the issue acutely. In February 2016 the Directors of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales and for Northern Ireland, and indeed the Lord Advocate for Scotland, met and pledged their commitment to providing a whole-of-UK approach to human trafficking and slavery. As a result, quarterly meetings are held at official level between the jurisdictions, and there is a regular exchange of information and best practice to make sure we get it right.

Photo of Paul Masterton Paul Masterton Conservative, East Renfrewshire

The chain of trafficking offences is often complex and runs across several jurisdictions. How are we working with other countries to increase the number of prosecutions?

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

We place a heavy emphasis on international work, and we are currently working with 25 Europe-based inquiries. We have 30 prosecutors in other countries who focus on this type of work, as well as on other types of crime. Our commitment is clear.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

It has been pointed out to me that the Attorney General and the Solicitor General would make a very good singing duo, although any performance would have to take place outside the Chamber. I hope the Attorney General enjoyed his debut at the Dispatch Box as much as I did.