Consultation on section 38 of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015: Duty to notify and provide information about victims

Closed 6 Sep 2019

Opened 16 Jun 2019

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


The only available data on the numbers of trafficking victims in Scotland are taken from the UK National Referral Mechanism (NRM). The NRM is a framework for identifying potential victims of trafficking and ensuring they receive appropriate support and assistance. It was introduced in 2009 to meet the UK’s obligations under the Council of European Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. If a victim consents to entering into the NRM he/she will receive a minimum of 90 days support.

Since the NRM’s introduction, recorded numbers of victims have increased across the UK.  In Scotland there has been a 130% increase in referrals to the NRM in the last 6 reported years (see table below).  Although not its primary purpose, the NRM is the only significant mechanism for accruing and processing data about trafficking and exploitation in the UK.  For those victims that do not consent to enter the NRM, no data is recorded.

The original policy intent underpinning section 38 of the Act was to allow for the collation and processing of wider information about trafficking activity in Scotland not currently collected through the NRM or the criminal justice system. It was envisioned that this would provide a more accurate picture of the scale and extent of trafficking in Scotland, and enable more effective targeting of enforcement activity and provision of support services

Section 38 of the Act places a duty on specified Scottish public authorities to provide information to Police Scotland about a person(s) who is, or appears to be, a victim of human trafficking or of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour. Once Police Scotland receive this information they must notify a third party about the person who is, or appears to be, a victim of either section 1 or 4 offence.

This consultation offers the opportunity to provide your views on the following:

  • Who should be named in Regulations as a Scottish public authority that will be subject to the duty,
  • What information should be included in notifications both to and from the Police,
  • Who the Police should pass information on to and ,
  • What other bodies the Scottish Government should work with who we cannot name in Regulations

Why your views matter

All of the comments we receive will be taken into account and will be used to develop regulations for section 38 of the Act.

Read the full consultation paper here.

What happens next

Once the consultation has closed all responses will be analysed and these will help to develop regulations that will be laid in the Scottish Parliament


  • Children and Families
  • Communities and Third Sector
  • Equality, Welfare and Rights
  • Public Sector
  • International
  • Law and Order
  • Work and Skills