HC Deb 27 May 2004 vol 421 cc1712-3
19. Mr. David Kidney (Stafford) (Lab)

What steps the Crown Prosecution Service is taking to secure the conviction of human traffickers. [176008]

The Solicitor-General

The CPS works closely with the police, immigration authorities and victims' organisations to ensure that human traffickers are caught, convicted and receive the appropriate sentence.

Mr. Kidney

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for that answer. Does she agree that public ill will towards those who enter our country illegally should be properly directed towards organised criminal gangs that smuggle people into the country illegally? Does she think that prosecutors could contribute to focusing public disapproval—nay, loathing—on the right people by securing convictions and the severest sentences for ruthless people smugglers?

The Solicitor-General

I agree with the points raised by my hon. Friend. When the Court of Appeal heard the case of a man called Plakici, who had received an unduly lenient sentence, it said that people trafficking is modern-day slavery. People are tricked, taken across the world and forced into terrible circumstances, which often include prostitution, kidnap, rape and many kinds of assault. The problem is growing, and we must address it internationally. We cannot sort it out alone, and we must work bilaterally with the countries of origin, some of which are in Africa, eastern Europe and south-east Asia, and with our European partners, because victims are often brought into another European country before they are brought into the United Kingdom.

Mr. Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield) (Con)

The Solicitor-General knows that in many cases human trafficking is for the purpose of prostitution, which is a point that we sought specifically to address in sections 57, 58 and 59 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Will she tell the House about progress on prosecutions under that legislation? Perhaps she will also amplify her remarks on international co-operation: are we succeeding in extraditing to this country for trial those who facilitate trafficking, because in many cases the traffickers are not based here?

The Solicitor-General

On international co-operation, the offences often occur in a number of different countries, and victims and evidence are often located in several different countries. That often raises the question of the most appropriate jurisdiction under which to try the crime, and extradition is not a major issue. The hon. Gentleman is right that the 2003 Act adds more offences to tackle that growing menace. The 2003 Act came into effect on 1 May, and I do not know whether any prosecutions have occurred under it yet, but an interministerial group will monitor the situation. The hon. Gentleman, like me, was in the Committee that considered the 2003 Act, and none of us wants good legislation that is not enforced.