To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of Article 8 of the European directive on human trafficking relating to non-prosecution or non-application of penalties to the victim, what action they are taking to ensure that victims of child trafficking are not routinely drawn into the criminal justice system.
The Government will shortly be applying to the European Commission to opt into the directive. If the application is accepted, Government will then work with the Commission on implementation of the directive.
The Government acknowledge that there are safeguarding implications for any trafficked child found working in criminal enterprise and that in these circumstances victims should not be criminalised. Due to the link between cannabis cultivation in the UK and exploitation of Vietnamese victims, the Association of Chief Police Officers has issued comprehensive guidance to officers investigating commercial cannabis cultivation offences on how to deal with and safeguard those found in these circumstances.
Crown Prosecution Service guidance also advises prosecutors on the steps to be taken when prosecuting those who may be trafficked victims. Where evidence obtained supports the fact that the suspect has been trafficked and committed criminal offences while they were under the control of their traffickers or others, the case should be discontinued on evidential grounds.