PPS publishes revised policy for prosecuting cases of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking

18 October 2021

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has published its revised Policy for Prosecuting Cases of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking. The launch of the new policy comes on Anti-Slavery Day, which is a UK-wide opportunity to raise awareness of human trafficking and modern slavery, and encourage action to address the problem.

The policy explains the approach taken by the PPS when considering cases involving modern slavery and human trafficking, including how prosecutorial decisions are taken in respect of slavery and human trafficking offences and other associated offences such as rape, controlling prostitution for gain, child sex abuse and benefit fraud.  You can read the policy by clicking the link. 

Ciaran McQuillan, Head of the PPS’s Serious Crime Unit, said: “Modern slavery and human trafficking are dreadful offences in which vulnerable people are targeted and exploited by predatory individuals and organised crime groups for financial gain. Types of exploitation, which are often linked, include sexual exploitation, forced labour and slavery and servitude. These crimes have a devastating impact on the victims and their families, and damage the fabric of society as a whole.

“These extremely complex offences require a multi-agency response, especially as it can be difficult for victims to seek help due to fear of and control by their traffickers.

“We have a team of specially trained prosecutors in the Serious Crime Unit who already work closely with our criminal justice partners including the PSNI and internationally to build robust cases where there is evidence to do so.

“We also work with voluntary and statutory agencies in order to provide victims and witnesses with protection and support. We have established and maintained relationships with prosecuting authorities in other parts of the UK to share information and knowledge and to ensure good practice is recognised and maintained. We have also agreed to a set of UK Prosecutor Commitments.

“The revised policy provides important guidance to prosecutors dealing with these types of cases, and its roll out is being supported with a programme of training for prosecutors and independent Counsel. The policy also provides increased clarity to the legal community, statutory and voluntary agencies and the public as to how we prosecute these cases.”

The new policy underwent a consultation process before it was finalised. Mr McQuillan said: “I want to thank those individuals and organisations with knowledge and experience in this area who gave their views on this revised policy and helped us shape it.

“The PPS is committed to playing our part in the criminal justice system’s efforts to tackle  human trafficking and modern slavery, which should have no place in society.”

Notes to Editors 

The policy is available to read by clicking the link. A summary report, detailing the consultation responses, can be found by clciking the link. 

The updated policy supersedes the PPS’s existing Policy for Prosecuting Cases of Human Trafficking, which was first published in 2013, and reflects changes in best practice and in legislation including the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015.

Media queries for the PPS should be referred to the Communications Unit by emailing ppspressoffice@ppsni.gov.uk inside office hours. The out of hours press officer can be contacted on 07920 418844.