Small fishing charity gives backing to trafficking bill
A small charity representing the welfare of fishermen has been thrust into the limelight for its approach on human trafficking.
The Fishermen's Mission has long fought for the rights and well-being of those working in what is regarded as one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.
Now the charity aims to increase this duty by backing moves by the Scottish Government to toughen human trafficking legislation - via a new bill to protect victims while punishing perpetrators.
We see and deal with the results of poor practices and are pleased to see that the issues are being addressed in Scotland - David Dickens
The Human Trafficking and Exploitation bill will mean that for the first time in Scotland there will be legislation focusing specifically on human trafficking and exploitation through slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour.
Some industries are more vulnerable to this – fishing being one, agriculture being another.
David Dickens, chief executive of the Fishermen's Mission, said: "As a charity dedicated to providing help and support to fishermen and their families in need, the Fishermen's Mission welcomes any move that seeks to reduce the potential for trafficking or exploitation of fishermen.
"We see and deal with the results of poor practices and are pleased to see that the issues are being addressed in Scotland."
Prosecutors will be given discretion not to punish victims forced to commit crime against their will - including those trafficked into the country and then forced into work.
Police Scotland assistant chief constable Malcolm Graham said: "We particularly welcome the enhanced focus on the needs of victims and the additional support the bill presents.
"The non-criminalisation of suspected victims of human trafficking is an area where clearly defined obligations and direction is welcomed and would assist greatly in providing the clarity and confidence required to effectively deal with those circumstances where offending has occurred as a result of their exploitation."
The legislation builds on work done by Labour MSP Jenny Marra, who had proposed her own bill.