HC Deb 18 November 2003 vol 413 cc835-6W
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what penalties are in place to punish those convicted of people trafficking; and what measures are in place to deter people traffickers. [139658]

Beverley Hughes

In the White Paper "Secure Border Safe Haven" the Government promised to introduce legislation on trafficking for both labour and sexual exploitation.

The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act introduced a new offence of trafficking for the purpose of controlling in prostitution with a maximum penalty of 14 years. This offence came into force 10 February 2003.

More wide-ranging offences covering trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation were included in the Sexual Offences Bill. The offence of trafficking for sexual exploitation carries a tough maximum penalty of 14 years. In addition to this, the Sexual Offences Bill also introduces a new offence of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of a child, which will protect children up to 18. It covers a range of offences, including buying the sexual services of a child, (for which the penalty ranges from seven years to life depending on the age of the child); and causing, facilitating or controlling the commercial sexual exploitation of a child in prostitution or pornography, for which the maximum penalty will be 14 years imprisonment.

An offence of trafficking for labour exploitation is under development and will be introduced when parliamentary time permits. This will carry the same 14 year penalty, which is the maximum determinate penalty available to the courts.

In addition to these penalties, the Government are taking action against immigration crime bosses to ensure that they do not profit from their crimes. To dismantle these criminal networks, the Government are trebling funding for Reflex with £20 million in this financial year and a further £20 million each year for the following two years.

Reflex is focused on tackling organised immigration crime at source, in transit and in the United Kingdom through intelligence led enforcement action and overseas co-operation. Since April 2003, 20 organised criminal gangs have been disrupted and 16 facilitators have been convicted. Under Reflex successful partnerships have or are being established in a variety of countries such as Romania, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Bulgaria.