Thursday, September 22, 2011
CPS Involved In Child Trafficking Rings Explains
CPS Policy for Prosecuting Cases
of Human Trafficking
CPS POLICY FOR PROSECUTING CASES OF
What is human trafficking? 4
What is smuggling? 7
The role of the CPS 8
The Code for Crown Prosecutors 9
Financial powers 12
Building a prosecution case 13
Victims and Witnesses 16
Child Victims 21
Victims of forced labour and servitude 25
Acceptance of pleas 26
The Prosecutors role in sentencing 27
Prosecuting suspects who might be trafficked victims 30
Annex A: Legislation 33
Annex B: Contact details 34
Glossary of Terms 37
Trafficking in human beings is a serious crime which demeans the value of
human life. It is a form of modern day slavery and involves the recruitment
and movement of the most vulnerable men, women and children to exploit
them in degrading situations for financial rewards for their traffickers.
Trafficking often takes place across international borders; but it can also
happen within the United Kingdom. Victims might be foreign nationals, but can
also include British Citizens. It has a devastating effect not only on the
individuals trafficked but also their families who may themselves be subjected
to threats or be in debt to traffickers; it causes harm to the victims and to
society as a whole.
The most effective means of combating trafficking are prevention and
disruption – by dismantling the criminal network; successful prosecutions and
confiscating assets which are the proceeds of crime. The Crown Prosecution
Service (CPS) is committed to reducing the harm caused by trafficking and
exploitation through prosecuting those responsible. This policy statement
explains the way in which we, the CPS, deal with cases of human trafficking
and the wide range of other crime associated with it. It explains what the CPS
does, how we prosecute cases of human trafficking and what measures we
can rely on to protect and support trafficked victims. The document is
designed for those who support trafficked victims, whether professionally or
personally, although it may be of interest to victims and witnesses and the
In identifying ways to improve the quality of our prosecutions and the support
available for victims of trafficking, we make links with other crimes committed
against women, often within a context of power and control. Human trafficking
is part of the overarching CPS Violence against Women strategy, which also
includes rape and sexual abuse. Research has shown that human trafficking
for the purposes of sexual exploitation disproportionately affects women; 75%
of referrals made to the National Referral Mechanism were for female victims,
and the UN estimates that 79% of all trafficking victims are women and girls.
In making these links prosecutors can make connections and transfer good
practice between crimes of violence against women.
However, it is acknowledged that whilst there is an over-representation of
sexually exploited women, it remains likely that labour exploitation and male
victims are relatively under-detected; male victims are less likely to report their
trafficking and exploitation. Boys and young men are also equally at risk of
sexual exploitation; the CPS does not neglect the abuse directed towards
them. All of our policies are gender neutral and will be applied fairly and
This document provides a clear statement about the role of the CPS and how
we make decisions in prosecutions, from deciding whether to charge
someone with a criminal offence and what that charge or charges should be.
It explains how we work with the police and other investigators in case
building and our role in supporting and protecting victims and witnesses
through the process.
This policy statement is supported by more detailed guidance for CPS
prosecutors so that they too have a clear understanding of the policy and how
they can best respond to this type of crime. Some words and phrases used
may not be familiar to everybody. We have therefore set out a glossary of
terms at Annex C in which we have defined some of the words and phrases
Victims and Witnesses
We recognise the central role of victims and witnesses in achieving successful
prosecutions. We know that many victims and witnesses take significant risks
in giving evidence against their traffickers and exploiters; they often fear the
consequences of giving evidence and may be reluctant to support criminal
proceedings. They may also worry that they may not be believed. Victims and
witnesses may also be apprehensive or frightened about coming to court to
give their evidence. Whilst we know it will be difficult, we will work with a
range of other government and non government agencies together with the
police and the courts to provide them with appropriate protection and support
to ensure their safety and to help them to give evidence. The CPS will
consider the range of measures available to support and protect trafficked
victims to encourage them to give their best evidence and make appropriate
applications to the court.
Children are particularly vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation and are likely
to require extra support. Child trafficking is first and foremost a child protection
issue; child victims are likely to be in need of welfare services and, in many
cases, protection and safeguarding. Although the main responsibility for
children’s welfare and safety will usually lie with other agencies such as
social, health and education services, the CPS will positively engage with
other authorities and agencies to support them in safeguarding children and in
deciding what is the best way to help them. Children are often trafficked into
criminal activities; their first encounter is likely to be with law enforcement. In
these circumstances prosecutors must work with law enforcement and
organisations that support child victims of trafficking, to ensure that all
relevant information is available and that all appropriate assessments are
Working with others
The CPS is one of a number of agencies that respond to the challenges of
dealing with human trafficking and we support the need for a multi-agency
response. We work closely with the police, other agencies in the criminal
justice system, community groups and organisations which support victims
and witnesses in identifying ways to improve our collective response. This
includes more effective disruption, prevention, investigation and prosecution,
including restraint and confiscation of assets, as well as improving victim and
witness care and protection. We know that non-government organisations will
often have greater experience of victims and their differing needs, and we
recognise the important role they play.
A criminal justice route is not the only way of responding to trafficking; criminal
(and civil) law may need to be used in conjunction with support services for
Because of the global nature of trafficking, with victims often being
transported across a number of different countries to their destination, the
CPS has a significant role in supporting the UK Government in its
international efforts to combat trafficking. We do this by helping law
enforcement and prosecutors in other developing countries to investigate and
prosecute cases of trafficking themselves, as well as raising awareness of
trafficking. By building capacity in these countries – which is the expertise
and knowledge of how to identify, investigate, and prove offences - we aim to
help them to prosecute its offenders and its offences better, thereby reducing
the potential harm through crime there and in the UK. In responding to this
global crime, the CPS also participates in Joint Investigation Teams (JITs)
which are multi agency teams involving law enforcement officers and
prosecutors from more than one country, to tackle the chain of criminals
across different countries responsible for recruiting, moving and exploiting
What is human trafficking?
Human trafficking is the acquisition of people through the use of force,
coercion, deception, through debt bondage or other means with the aim of
exploiting them. Men, women and children can fall into the hands of traffickers
either in their own countries or abroad. Trafficking occurs both across borders
and within a country; it is not always visible - exploitative situations are
frequently covert and not easily detectable.
The Palermo Protocol1 provides the first internationally recognised definition
of human trafficking:
Trafficking in persons shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer,
harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or
other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of abuse of
power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments
1 The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women
and Children, Supplementing the UN Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime.
This was adopted by the United Nations in 2000 in Palermo, Italy
or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another
person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a
minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual
exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery,
servitude or removal of organs.
Human trafficking usually has three constituent elements which are explained
in the table below2
Receipt of persons
Threat or use of force
Abuse of power or
Giving payments or
Prostitution of others
Slavery or similar practices
Removal of organs
Other types of exploitation
Human trafficking is often considered to be organised crime committed on a
large commercial scale. But trafficking covers a range of criminal activity, and
can also be committed by a single person who may be known or related to the
victim. This makes it easier for the trafficker to recruit people as there may
already be a relationship of trust.
The means of trafficking may also be more subtle than those described
above. For example, victims may have an emotional attachment to their
trafficker and may be psychologically bullied or coerced into a situation of
exploitation. Or they may be totally dependent on those who are exploiting
them. For child victims, consent is irrelevant therefore there is no requirement
to show the means. The Palermo Protocol regards children as victims of
trafficking whether or not they are evidenced as coerced or deceived into their
The purpose does not always have to be achieved for there to be an offence
of trafficking; it is sufficient for there to be an intention to exploit. The different
2 Taken from the UNODC website.
types of exploitation this covers is wide ranging and often includes the
following types of conduct:
Sexual – frequently through forced sexual exploitation, where
victims are placed into off-street brothels, forced to see many
clients, and receive either little or no money. Victims may also be
transported to clients in hotels or their homes or forced to work on
the streets. They regularly suffer sexual and physical violence and
abuse. Whilst it predominantly affects women, sexual exploitation
also involves young girls, boys and men.
Forced labour – where victims are forced to work very long
hours in hazardous conditions and hand over the majority or all of
their wages to their traffickers or controllers. Violence and threats
are used against victims or against their families if they fail to
comply. There may be threats made to expose the victim to the
authorities, for example because of their immigration status, or their
passports are confiscated. Many victims or their families are in debt
bondage. In some cases the victim may not immediately be aware
of their exploitation when given work, transport and
accommodation, but their wages may be reduced significantly to
pay excessive contributions for those services which may be poor
quality and present safety risks.
Domestic Servitude – victims who live and work in households
where they are forced to work through threats of serious harm and
may be subjected to physical and sexual assaults. There is often
restriction of liberty and movement and victims may not be able to
leave their accommodation. In essence it is a form of slavery.
Enabling others to acquire benefit - this includes money
from state financial assistance such as child benefit, but also
includes any benefit derived by the trafficker such as profit,
personal benefit or privilege. Victims are often deceived or coerced
into helping their traffickers or they may be used by traffickers
knowing they are too young or disabled to realise why.
Organ harvesting – where victims are trafficked in order to sell
their body parts and organs for transplant;
Children – children are amongst the most vulnerable victims. Sometimes
they are sold by family members or families are in debt bondage to traffickers
and their children are put into forced labour or domestic work where they are
vulnerable to sexual or physical abuse. Children may be abducted, or handed
over by their parents in the belief that they may have a better life and access
to education. Sometimes trafficking can be hidden under the guise of private
fostering. Children are also vulnerable to being used in criminal enterprises,
working in cannabis farms or pick-pocketing (theft) gangs. Some are
unaccompanied asylum-seeking children who can be preyed upon by those
who exploit them to enable others here to acquire benefits. British children
can also be vulnerable to traffickers who groom, exploit and sexually abuse
them before moving them around other towns and cities where the sexual
Trafficking of human beings should not be confused with ‘’smuggling’’ of
human beings. The majority of people who enter the UK illegally have either
done so by themselves or have arranged to be smuggled into the country.
The next section explains some of the differences.
What is smuggling?
Whilst victims who are trafficked have little choice in what happens to them,
and it is generally against their will or under some sort of false pretence,
people smuggling generally takes place with the consent of the person being
smuggled; often payment is made to the smuggler. Common reasons for
individuals seeking to be smuggled include employment and economic
opportunity, or escape from persecution or conflict. Once they have been
moved across international borders, the relationship with those assisting in
the smuggling ends upon arrival at their destination. Smuggling is a crime
which involves the illegal entry into a country of which that person is not a
national or resident either clandestinely or through deception, such as the use
of fraudulent documents
Factors which help distinguish between smuggling and trafficking are:
consent - smuggling is a voluntary act and there is normally little
coercion/violence involved or required from those assisting in the
exploitation – there is no exploitation by the smugglers of their victims
once they reach their destination, effectively their relationship ends on
arrival at destination. Trafficking victims on the other hand are
subjected to a cycle of exploitation.
profits for smuggling are derived primarily from transportation and
facilitation of illegal entry in another country, whereas traffickers profit
primarily from the exploitation of their victims.
However, in some cases the distinction between a smuggled and trafficked
person will be blurred and both definitions could easily be applied. The victim
may have started out being smuggled into the country, but during their journey
or when they arrive at their destination it could develop into or become
This can happen if someone has started their journey here being a willing
participant, perhaps travelling here to work in a new job. However, either
during their journey or when they arrive, they become vulnerable to traffickers
and are exploited and harmed. During their journey they may be subjected to
unsafe conditions whilst travelling to their destination, subjected to sexual or
physical abuse or be forced to participate in other criminal activities. Often
there may be more than one person or group involved in facilitating the travel
of trafficked victims who may be bought and sold several times in the course
of their journey. It is important to examine the end situation when the victim is
recovered to determine whether someone has been smuggled or trafficked.
The role of the CPS
The CPS is the principal public prosecution service for England and Wales,
headed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The DPP exercises his
functions independently, subject to the superintendence of the Attorney
General who is accountable to Parliament for the work of the prosecution
service. The CPS was set up in 1986 to prosecute cases investigated by the
police and, in some cases by immigration officers.
Whilst the CPS is one part of the criminal justice system, which includes
others such as the police, the courts and defence lawyers, the global nature of
human trafficking is such that we frequently work in collaboration with a wider
number of domestic and international agencies. In responding to human
trafficking, our work also brings us into regular contact with non-government
Human trafficking cases tend to be serious, complex and require sensitive
handling. They are most likely to be prosecuted by specialist prosecutors who
have experience, expertise and training to deal with them.
The police and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) are the main
agencies responsible for investigating cases of human trafficking and for
gathering the evidence. However, we also work closely with other agencies
such as the UK Border Agency in building strong cases. SOCA has
responsibility for the UK Human Trafficking Centre and the Vulnerable
Persons Team, which provides advice and guidance to police forces in
investigating cases of trafficking, as well as support and evidential
interviewing of vulnerable victims of trafficking. The CPS has the
responsibility for deciding in the most serious and complex cases, whether a
suspect should be charged with a criminal offence, and, if so, what the
charge(s) should be. The police do not refer every complaint of a criminal
offence to us. However, when the police have a reasonable suspicion that a
suspect(s) has committed a criminal offence associated with human
trafficking, they must refer that case to a prosecutor who will make the
decision whether to charge.
Early consultation will take place between the prosecutor and the police or
SOCA officer to ensure that all possible avenues of evidence are explored,
and that the correct charge (s) is identified. We intend wherever possible in
these cases, that the same prosecutor will be responsible for the case from
beginning to end and will work closely with the investigator throughout. This
degree of continuity is important to improve the quality of the prosecution.
Prosecutors will also work closely with financial investigators to pursue the
financial assets of traffickers. Prosecutors will apply for orders to restrain and
confiscate any assets and property traced by investigators.
Whilst we do take into account victims and other views, we are not their legal
representative and cannot act on their behalf. The CPS prosecutes cases on
behalf of the Crown.
The Code for Crown Prosecutors
The Code for Crown Prosecutors (The Code) sets out how we make decisions
about whether or not to prosecute. The Code is a public document. We review
the cases referred to us by the police (or immigration officers) in line with the
test set out in the Code. The Full Code Test has two stages:
The evidential stage
We must be satisfied first of all that there is enough evidence to provide a
realistic prospect of conviction against each defendant on each charge. This
means that a jury or bench of magistrates or judge hearing a case alone,
properly directed and acting in accordance with the law is more likely than not
to convict the defendant of the charge alleged.
The standard that we use to decide whether or not to prosecute is different
from the one applied by the court before it may convict a defendant. For there
to be a conviction, we have to prove the case so that the court is sure of the
If the case does not pass the evidential stage, it must not go ahead, no matter
how important or serious it may be.
The public interest stage
If the case does pass the evidential stage, we must decide if a prosecution is
needed in the public interest. A prosecution will usually take place unless “the
prosecutor is sure that there are public interest factors tending against
prosecution which outweigh those tending in favour” (Code for Crown
Prosecutors paragraph 4.16). If the evidential stage is passed, the more
serious the offence or the offender’s record of criminal behaviour, a
prosecution is almost certainly required in the public interest.
It will usually be in the public interest to prosecute cases of human trafficking
because of the nature and seriousness of these cases. In accordance with the
Code for Crown Prosecutors, each case will be reviewed taking into account a
number of public interest factors which will often be present in cases of
human trafficking; these include:
that the offence was carried out by a group,
that the victim was in a vulnerable situation and the suspect(s) took
advantage of this
a conviction is likely to result in a significant sentence
a prosecution would have a significant positive impact on maintaining
the offence was premeditated
there was a marked difference in the levels of understanding of the
suspect and the victim and the suspect took advantage of this.
But these are only examples and not meant to be exhaustive.
However, prosecutors will also have to consider public interest factors which
may tend against a prosecution; this includes:
a prosecution is likely to have an adverse effect on the victim’s physical
or mental health, always bearing in mind the seriousness of the offence
and the views of the victim about the effect of a prosecution on his or
her physical or mental health.
In deciding whether a prosecution is required in the public interest,
prosecutors should take into account “any views expressed by the victim
regarding the impact that the offence has had. In appropriate cases, for
example where the victim is a child or an adult who lacks capacity as defined
by the Mental Health Act 2005, prosecutors should take into account any
views expressed by the victim’s family” paragraph 4.18 of the Code. However,
victims of exploitation often do not recognise that they are victims, or they
may be under threat; this should be taken into account when hearing views
expressed by the victim, victim’s family, or by the Local Authority where a
child is in their care.
We always think very carefully about the interests of the victim when we
decide where the public interest lies. However we prosecute cases on behalf
of the Crown and not just in the interests of any particular individual. Striking
this balance can be difficult. The views and interests of the victim are
important, but prosecutors must form an overall view of the public interest
when deciding on prosecution.
In some instances, a prosecution may not go ahead. This does not mean that
the victim is not believed. Where prosecutors have a responsibility to explain
their decision to the victim, for example, when they discontinue or
substantially alter one or more charges in a case, they must comply with the
Code of Practice for Victims of Crime and all relevant CPS Guidance. Please
refer to the section keeping victims informed
The Threshold Test
Prosecutors will apply the Full Code Test unless the suspect presents a
substantial bail risk if released and not all the evidence is available at the time
when he or she must be released from custody unless charged. The
Threshold Test may be used to charge a suspect who may justifiably be
detained in custody to allow evidence to be gathered to meet the Full Code
Test. The full meaning of the Threshold Test and the circumstances in which it
would be applied are fully set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.
This section outlines the main criminal legislation relevant to human
trafficking. More information on the range of offences that can be charged is
contained in Annex A
Sexual Offences Act 2003
Sections 57, 58 and 59 create three offences of trafficking for the
purposes of sexual exploitation. The offences cover trafficking another
person into the UK (section 57), trafficking within the UK (section 58)
and trafficking out of the UK (section 59) with the intention of
committing a relevant sexual offence on that person. A relevant sexual
offence is any offence under Part 1 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003
which includes rape, prostitution and sexual abuse. These offences
apply equally to women and men. It also includes all child sexual
offences which are covered in more detail in the separate section on
child victims and Annex A.
Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) Act 2004
Section 4 creates offences of trafficking another person into, within and
out of the UK for non–sexual exploitation. This includes domestic
servitude or forced labour, human organ donation or forcing or enabling
another person to acquire a benefit. This can mean a state benefit, for
example a child benefit, or any advantage derived by the trafficker,
which could include financial gain or profit. In circumstances where the
trafficking is difficult to evidence, we can prosecute for holding another
person in servitude or requiring them to perform forced labour (see
section 71 Coroners and Justice Act 2009)
Immigration Act 1971
Section 25 creates an offence of assisting unlawful immigration to a
member state (known as ‘facilitation’). It is a breach of immigration law
by a non-EU citizen (including a breach of another Member State's
immigration law). We will use this offence when someone has been
smuggled into the UK, or where we cannot prove the nature of the
exploitation above (for example in cases of pro-active investigations
where a victim has not yet been subject to exploitation) or when
someone may have been trafficked into the UK before 2004 when
human trafficking laws came into force.
All of these offences cover criminal acts committed in the United Kingdom,
regardless of the nationality of the defendant as well as acts committed
overseas. This means that if someone who resides in another country
arranges for the recruitment or transport of a victim to the UK and knows that
they will be exploited here, we can prosecute that person for offences of
trafficking or smuggling.
The offences are either way which means that they can be tried either in a
magistrates' court or at the Crown Court. However our guidance to
prosecutors advises them that these offences are so serious that they are
likely to lead to a significant sentence on conviction and as such should be
tried in the Crown Court. On conviction at the Crown Court, a defendant can
be sentenced to a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment for each
The offences are all ‘lifestyle offences’ for the purposes of the Proceeds of
Crime Act. This means that the court can assume that all the assets the
defendant has acquired over the last 6 years are from crime and the
defendant has to prove otherwise. This enables us to confiscate the
The legislation also enables us to prosecute those who:
attempt to commit a trafficking offence;
participate as an accomplice in a trafficking offence; or
organise or directs others to commit a trafficking offence
Other legislation we can use
Prosecutors will be aware when dealing with a case of human trafficking that
the victim may not just be a victim of trafficking. Often victims have been
subjected to other offences committed during the different stages of their
journey and also during their exploitation. For example, a victim of sexual
exploitation may have also been raped and threatened by their trafficker over
a period of time. Or a victim of forced labour may be falsely imprisoned,
assaulted and threatened with violence or death. This is often done as a
means of gaining and maintaining control of their victim.
Prosecutors should consider a range of other offences then with which to
charge suspects, depending on the facts of the case. These other offences
may be in addition to, or instead of, charges of human trafficking if the
evidence obtained by the police supports them and depending on the
circumstances of the case. The choice of charges must reflect the full extent
of the criminality and enable the court to sentence accordingly. A more
detailed explanation of how we decide whether to charge and what offences
to charge can be found in The Code for Crown Prosecutors section.
In addition to prosecuting the traffickers and others who make financial gains
from the exploitation of their victims, we can also disrupt their activity through
restraining and freezing their assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 at
an early stage of the investigation. The following are offences and powers
which enable prosecutors and police to do this:
Recovery of assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to
confiscate and remove assets from a defendant following
conviction. For offences of human trafficking and smuggling the
court can assume that all the assets the individual has acquired
over the last 6 years are from crime, and the defendant has to
Money laundering under the Proceeds of Crime Act which
creates three criminal offences which do not have to involve
money at all; their essence is the movement and use of ‘criminal
property’ as opposed to money.
Forfeiture which involves the seizure of items used to commit a
crime. For human trafficking this includes the power to seize and
forfeit land vehicles, ships, and aircraft which may have been
used to traffic victims.
Seizure under the Proceeds of Crime Act which is a civil power
and allows the Police to seize cash where the amount is over
£1000 where they have reasonable cause to believe it has come
from crime or is intended to be used in the furtherance of crime.
An agreement between the police and CPS clarifies the roles and
responsibilities of police and prosecutors, and sets out the working
arrangements for these powers. However, prosecutors will always provide
early advice to the police concerning the investigation, preservation of assets,
obtaining and enforcement of confiscation orders and confiscation matters
generally and will make restraint and confiscation applications to the Crown
Court on behalf of the police.
Building a prosecution case
Prosecutors working with investigators ensure that all avenues of enquiry are
pursued and that evidence is obtained to construct a strong case to put before
a court. In cases of human trafficking, it is highly likely that prosecutors will be
involved at an early stage in the investigation to advise the investigator on the
evidence, how it can be obtained from overseas and also the restraining of
How we build a prosecution case
We will work closely with the police and other law enforcement agencies both
domestically and in the countries where the victim has been trafficked from
and across to make sure that all available evidence from all sources is
gathered to prove the case.
CPS prosecutors are sometimes required to travel to other countries to liaise
with prosecutors who have an investigative responsibility to obtain evidence
from abroad. Evidence gathering will be directed through that jurisdiction’s
prosecutor. In some cases, we will collaborate with them in order to prosecute
traffickers in the most appropriate jurisdiction. That might mean that the
traffickers are prosecuted in another country although the victims may have
been exploited here. When that happens, we will work with investigators and
prosecutors there to help evidence their case. Eurojust3 will assist in these
cases by facilitating the co-ordination of cross-border investigations and
prosecutions and the exchange of information between EU Member States.
This is particularly important where offending occurs in more than one
When police to police enquiries to gather evidence from overseas in an
informal manner cannot be used, a formal request for assistance from abroad
must be made through a letter of request, which is a legal document. The
prosecutor will prepare a letter of request and issue it as early as possible in
the investigation. Once evidence is received, it must be reviewed to ensure it
is in a form which is admissible and reliable to support the case and present in
a court of law in England and Wales.
The review process is a continuing process and prosecutors must take
account of any change in circumstances in accordance with the Code for
Crown Prosecutors. Whenever evidence or information is referred to the
prosecutor, it is reviewed to make sure that it is right to proceed with a
prosecution. Whilst the CPS and the police work closely together, the final
responsibility for the decision whether to charge, what the charge should be or
whether a case should go ahead, rests with the prosecutor.
The role of victims and witnesses
As with all crime, the CPS recognises the central role of victims and witnesses
in achieving successful prosecutions. The victim’s account in court or
statement to the police of what happened to them is evidence and is important
to the case in proving each element of the offence of trafficking. For this
reason it is important to identify trafficked victims at an early stage and ensure
their safety. We know that specialist support to the victim will be needed in
cases of human trafficking, for example through counselling. Prosecutors will
consider how best to support them giving evidence in light of the often close,
controlling and dependent relationship between the defendant and victim and
the increased likelihood of victim intimidation. But we also recognise that
sometimes trafficked victims may be reluctant to support criminal
proceedings; they may be frightened or may not wish to come to court. If we
3 Eurojust) was established in 2002. It is a permanent network of 27 experienced prosecutors,
one from each EU State, whose task is to improve the effectiveness of cross-border
investigations and prosecutions in the EU.
suspect that the victim has been threatened or frightened into not giving
evidence, we will ask the police to investigate further. The investigation may
reveal new offences, such as harassment or witness intimidation. If
necessary, we will ask the court to delay any hearing so that a thorough
investigation may take place before we decide about the future of the case.
For victims and witnesses who do decide to give evidence, protection and
specialist support is available from the police and other support organisations.
This close co-operation can help prepare and encourage victims before trial.
There are also measures which we can apply to the court for in order to
protect victims and witnesses in giving evidence at court. These are
discussed in more detail in the section Victims and Witnesses.
What if the victim does not wish to give evidence?
If trafficked victims decide not to give evidence, we can still charge and
prosecute offenders. Other corroborating or supporting evidence described
below will assist in proving a case. This may be possible in the following
Where the victim has made a complaint and a statement to the police
but does not wish to give evidence, we will consider whether it is still
possible to continue without the victim’s evidence. In very limited
circumstances, the law allows us to use the victim’s statement in court
without calling the victim to give oral evidence, for example where the
victim is in fear. This is called hearsay evidence but it is a matter for the
court to decide. If there is sufficient other corroborative evidence, that
is evidence which supports or confirms the victim’s account, such as
someone who is able to give direct evidence of what they saw or
heard, or medical and scientific evidence which links the victim to the
suspect, it may be possible to prosecute.
Where the victim makes no complaint or report to the police. As long as
there is evidence which proves all the elements of the offence without
the need for the victim to make a complaint, we can still proceed to a
prosecution for human trafficking. For example, where there is police
surveillance evidence showing the suspect (s) transporting a victim,
vehicle registration details which link the suspect to the car and
premises where the victim may have been exploited, eg a brothel,
together with recovery of exhibits such as false passports, mobile
phone text messages or recovery of large sums of money; or
The prosecutor might consider other offences which can still be
evidenced without the victim’s testimony, such as smuggling, money
laundering, forged or false document offences, causing or inciting
prostitution for gain.
Other evidence to prosecute
When investigating a case of human trafficking, the police will always look for
corroboration or supporting evidence such as medical or scientific evidence,
CCTV evidence, or eyewitnesses to events. Other evidence the police will
obtain to prove the offence will include the following:
Suspects. Obtaining reference material from suspects is of primary
importance. Where identification may be an issue, photographs can be
taken and where physical features, tattoos or jewellery items are
described in victim or witness statements, these will be photographed
to corroborate victim statements.
Forensic for scene to scene links. It may be possible to forensically
link for example, vehicles to premises, suspects and victims through
use of fingerprints, DNA or contact trace exhibits, even when suspects
are not recorded. Imaging through conventional still photographs
supported by video and other imaging techniques can confirm features
identified in victim statements.
Premises Examination of scenes from CCTV and use of fingerprint
and DNA to link suspects and victims with premises. Searches of
premises to recover evidence could include personal documents,
passports, travel documents, family papers and documents relating to
victims and potential victims home countries, mobile phones, financial
documentation, vehicle documents, documents detailing associates
Vehicles which may have been used to transport and move victims
around. DNA recovery may be used to identify individuals with access
to vehicles and fingerprints.
Documents Conventional document recovery during searches can be
very valuable in proving the commercial nature of human trafficking
offences. IT and communications equipment offer further opportunities
for evidence recovery. In cases of fraudulent document production it
may be possible to identify processes and individuals. Downloading
mobile phone data can also confirm contacts, dates and times.
Victims and Witnesses
We have a duty to provide victims and witnesses with appropriate protection
and support to ensure their safety and to improve their ability to give their best
evidence. Whilst the experiences of victims of human trafficking will differ, it is
important to recognise the serious impact of these crimes on the individual.
Victims may have a range of health, sexual health, emotional and/or mental
health issues. The welfare of the victim should always be paramount; it is for
this reason that that specialist support will be needed from support providers.
A person may be considered a victim of trafficking regardless of whether the
perpetrator is identified, apprehended, prosecuted or convicted and
regardless of the familial relationship between the perpetrator and the victim.
Loss of freedom is a defining feature of trafficking. For example, trafficked
victims are often not allowed to leave the premises where they are held or if
they do, they are accompanied by a trafficker. Victims suffer frequent and
severe abuse, both physical and psychological. Violence and physical harm
are the hallmarks of trafficked men and women. But we are aware that victims
can also suffer “softer” forms of coercion; their freedom isn’t quite so
constrained, they are given some “payment” from their earnings, they can be
deceived into believing they are coming here for a better life.
Young people and children living in the UK can also be targets for traffickers
and become victims of sexual exploitation. For some this abusive sexual
relationship may begin and end with their exploiter ‘boyfriend’; but more often
it will lead to coercion into sexual activity with a wider group of abusers. Some
may be moved from house to house, city to city – trafficked within the UK –
and some may be exploited by their abusers commercially. Exploiters can
also be women, who appear as a carer or friend of the victim. See Child
We know that victims often face barriers in coming forward and giving
evidence. They do not always wish to, and they are sometimes unable to, cooperate
with the authorities. Often they are in fear of the consequences of
giving evidence against their traffickers, because of the threat of what might
happen to them or to their families. They also may have a distrust of the
authorities because of the culture or experiences in their home country.
Victims may also be facing conflicting interests such as pending applications
for asylum which might impact on their willingness to engage.
Prosecutors should also recognise the diversity of victims. As experiences of
trafficking are undoubtedly different and affected by the victim’s ethnicity, age,
immigration status, religion and culture, the safety and needs of each victim
must be assessed on an individual basis.
The National Referral Mechanism
The early identification and protection of victims are a priority. Improvements
to the identification of victims and their subsequent referral through a National
Referral Mechanism into appropriate support and protection have helped in
their recovery from exploitative situations. In implementing the Council of
Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings in April
2009,the UK Government introduced mechanisms to identify and protect
victims of trafficking and to safeguard their rights. It created provisions for
support to victims through a 45 day recovery and reflection period for all
identified victims and temporary one-year renewable residence permits in
circumstances where they assist the authorities or support criminal
proceedings or owing to their personal circumstances.
For victims of trafficking this means a first responder (an authorised agency)
who encounters them can make a referral to either the UK Human Trafficking
Centre (for EU victims) or the UK Border Agency (for non EU victims) to
access these provisions. The potential victim’s case is considered and, if
approved, the victim is given an extendable 45 day reflection period during
which time they are entitled to a range of support services, and will not be
removed from the UK. Accommodation and support is provided through a
range of support providers.
At the end of the reflection period, a conclusive decision will be made and if
the victim does not have any leave to remain in the UK, they will be
considered for a residence permit based on whether the victim is to support
criminal proceedings, or whether their personal circumstances warrant a grant
of leave to remain in the UK.
It should be noted that the referral form completed by a first responder
recording their encounter with the victim may, in some circumstances, be
disclosable to the defence as information on the form might go to the
credibility of the victim or other prosecution witnesses.
More detailed information on these provisions can be found at Council of
Code of Practice for Victims of Crime
Victims have legal rights under the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime to
receive certain levels of service from police forces, the CPS and from other
criminal justice agencies. The Code of Practice applies to any person who has
made an allegation, or had an allegation made on their behalf, of a crime that
falls within the National Crime Recording Standards. It is immaterial that the
perpetrator has not been arrested or charged. The Code represents a
minimum level of service in England and Wales to be provided to victims by a
wide range of organisations.
The CPS has the following obligations:
To ensure that victims are informed of charging decisions taken by the
CPS. In cases where, following discussions between an investigating
officer and a Crown Prosecutor, the decision is taken that there is
insufficient evidence to bring any proceedings, we will notify the victim
of this fact within one working day.
Where there is a decision to substantially alter or discontinue any
charge, the CPS must notify a vulnerable or intimidated victim within
one working day and for other victims within 5 working days.
In certain cases, for example those involving child abuse, or all sexual
offences, the prosecutor must offer to meet the victims to explain a
prosecution decision not to bring any proceedings in respect of criminal
conduct following the provision of a full evidential report by the police to
the CPS for a decision on charge. This also applies to cases where a
decision is made to discontinue or substantially alter charges. See also
keeping victims informed.
In cases where the victim is a child, then parents / carers should be
Where a victim is identified as potentially vulnerable or intimidated, the
CPS must consider making an application to the court for a special
measures direction. The outcome of that consideration must be
Representatives of the CPS should introduce themselves to victims at
court, answer any questions victims may have about court procedures
and give an indication where possible of how long they will have to wait
before giving evidence.
In the event of delays to criminal proceedings, the CPS must, wherever
possible, explain the reason for the delay and tell the victim how long
the wait is likely to be.
The CPS must pay expenses that the CPS has decided are due to the
victim not later than ten working days after receipt of claim form.
The CPS must answer any questions the victim has about the
sentence in their case
Must provide the Witness Care Units with copies of the List of
Witnesses to attend Court as soon as these are finalised to notify
victims if they are required to give evidence.
Respond to requests for information from the Criminal Injuries
Compensation Authority or the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals
Panel no later than 60 working days after the day on which the CPS
receive the request.
Further information on obligations to victims can be found at the Code of
Practice for Victims of Crime
What we can do to help victims and witnesses at court
The early identification of a vulnerable or intimidated witness by the police and
early discussion with the CPS prosecutor are essential to the conduct of the
case. A vulnerable or intimidated witness is a witness whose evidence is likely
to be diminished by reason of fear or distress. The police have the primary
responsibility for alerting the prosecutor that the case involves a vulnerable or
intimidated witness. Having identified that the witness is vulnerable or
intimidated, the police can then video record the victim’s evidence-in-chief for
presentation at court. Video recorded cross-examination can also be
considered admissible if the witness has already been permitted to give their
evidence in chief on video prior to the court case. In all relevant cases, the
witness’s needs should be discussed at the meeting with the prosecutor to
improve case progression and provide a level of reassurance for the victim or
Once victims have made the decision to support a prosecution, there are a
number of measures the prosecutor can employ to assist:
Prosecutors can make an application to the court for a range of measures to
support and protect trafficked victims giving evidence against their
perpetrators. This is particularly important as we realise that many victims
take significant risks in giving evidence. These are called “Special Measures”
screening the victim from the defendant,
giving evidence through live link,
clearing the public gallery
In some instances, not revealing the victim’s identity when giving
evidence. This would only be appropriate in cases where the
trafficker did not know the identity of the victim.
We can apply for reporting restrictions under section 46 of the Youth
Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 to restrict media coverage of
cases that reveal a witness’s identity and may create safety issues.
Where the victim wishes to remain in their home country, the prosecutor
can make an application under section 32 Criminal Justice Act 1988 for
them to give evidence via a video link from there. However evidence may
not be given without leave of the court.
It is our responsibility to protect victims from unwarranted or irrelevant
attacks on their character and ask for the court’s intervention where crossexamination
is considered to be inappropriate or oppressive.
Prosecutors can also in certain circumstance use powers under the
Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 to provide immunity from
prosecution or sentence discounts for those who co-operate with the
However, whilst it is the prosecutor’s role to make an application to the court
for these measures, it is for the judge to decide whether to grant the
application. In considering whether to do so, the judge will seek to balance the
victim’s rights against the rights of others such as the defendants. The Court
will seek to act in the overall interests of justice.
Trafficked victims whose first language is not English will always be afforded
the use of an interpreter when giving their evidence in court. The CPS will
only engage interpreters who are competent, qualified and security vetted.
The victim must be afforded the opportunity to make a Victim Personal
Statement (VPS) by the police. It allows a victim to explain how a crime has
affected them personally. Child witnesses who are victims should also be
given the opportunity to make a VPS after completing a video-recorded
interview or written statement.
Keeping victims informed
We understand how important it is for victims to be kept informed about the
progress of a case and about dates of court hearings or other important case
developments. For victims of trafficking that information will usually be passed
to the senior investigating officer who will notify the victims’ support provider.
That same officer will also keep the victim informed about the outcome of the
case – the verdict and sentence.
Under the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime, the prosecutor must tell a
victim if we decide that there is insufficient evidence to bring a prosecution, or
if we decide to drop a case, or substantially to alter the charges. In such
circumstances, we will explain to a victim why we have made these decisions.
Normally we will do this by writing a letter to the victim.
In a case of human trafficking, the prosecutor who made the decision to drop
or substantially alter the charge will notify the victim and will also offer to meet
the victim to explain personally the reasons for the decision. Where a
prosecutor has made a decision not to charge during a face-to-face
consultation with a police officer (that is, without a full, written evidential
report), the police officer must notify the victim.
A child is a person under 18 years of age. Child trafficking is the practice of
transporting children into, within and out of the UK for the purposes of
Identifying child trafficking and exploitation
Many children are trafficked and exploited though various types of control
such as violence, the threat of violence, sexual abuse, alcohol and drug
abuse, emotional abuse, manipulation through twisting cultural practices and
imprisonment to suppress victims and ensure their compliance. Some are
sold by family members or the child or family might be in debt bondage,
others maybe coerced through more subtle means. They may come to the
attention of the authorities as unaccompanied asylum seeking children
identified at ports of entry or children identified by children’s services or local
authorities. Those who are trafficked here into criminal activity are often
identified through the police or local authority.
Whilst the UK is primarily a destination state for human trafficking, children
born, or normally resident in the UK can be trafficked within the UK, that is
moved within the UK, for sexual exploitation. Internal trafficking is
characterised by the recruitment, grooming, or other forms of coercion of
young girls or boys leading to sexual exploitation by organised crime gangs in
the UK. Investigations may arise in circumstances where a child has gone
missing (often, but not limited to, children in local authority care). It often
involves coercion by an individual who is older or more powerful than the
victim and can range from swapping food, drugs, alcohol or cigarettes for
sexual favours. They may be sexually abused before being taken to other
towns, cities and venues where the sexual exploitation continues.
However, not all cases of child sexual exploitation and abuse will be
considered to be internal trafficking. Where evidence obtained by
investigators supports an offence of trafficking within the UK, this will be
considered by the prosecutor. Where other serious sexual offences involving
the exploitation of children under 18 are disclosed, the prosecutor will select
the most appropriate charges to fully reflect the criminality. These offences
carry significant penalties and may be charged if the evidence and criminal
behaviour does not support offences of human trafficking. Some of these
offences are identified in Annex A.
If a child is identified by police during operations, the Children’s Services will
be notified immediately so that a child protection plan can be put into place
and a strategy discussion co-ordinated. Children’s Services are responsible
for accommodating the child and will action a section 47 investigation at the
We know that there is also a risk that trafficked children may go missing from
Local Authority care. A number of local authorities have set up multi-agency
arrangements to enhance their collective response for safeguarding and
preventing trafficked children from going missing.
When to prosecute
The use of a child in a criminal enterprise is a form of child abuse. Children
who may be forced into sexual exploitation, coerced into committing crimes or
used by adults to commit offences will be treated by the CPS as a victim.
More detailed guidance to prosecutors expands on these provisions. In cases
where young victims are facing charges for offences committed whilst in a
coerced situation, for example when they have been trafficked, the CPS will
intervene. The prosecutor will give consideration to discontinuing a
prosecution, on public interest grounds, where information or evidence has
been obtained to support that. Further information on this appears in the
section Prosecuting suspects who might be trafficked victims.
The trafficking and exploitation of children will always be considered serious.
Supporting child witnesses
Guidance has been issued to prosecutors on prosecuting cases involving
children and young people as victims and witnesses of crime and, in
appropriate circumstances, as defendants. This advises prosecutors that they
must ensure that when dealing with cases involving children, the child is given
appropriate support and there is consideration as to what is best for the child
if a criminal prosecution proceeds. Examples of this include
expediting cases and dealing with them with fairness and sensitivity;
where children have been sexually exploited, treating them as victims
consideration of the use of children as witnesses, witness care and of
special measures to enable them to give evidence in the best way
possible in terms of quality of their evidence and reducing trauma to
There can be considerable benefits to be gained where agencies and
authorities establish close working relationships and share information.
Prosecutors should therefore, where independence and objectivity are not
compromised, positively engage with other authorities and agencies to
safeguard children. A key forum for this is the Local Safeguarding Children
The Home Office Guidance “Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal
Proceedings: Guidance for Vulnerable or Intimidated Witnesses, including
Children” provides detailed recommended procedure for interviewing child
witnesses. It considers planning interviews, decisions about whether the
interview should be video recorded or a statement taken, preparing the
witness for court and subsequent court appearances, pre-trial therapy and
The question of special measures for child victims and witnesses should be
carefully considered by the prosecutor in discussion with the police as part of
the charging advice. Child witnesses under the age of 17 will automatically be
eligible for special measures under section 16 of the Youth Justice and
Criminal Evidence Act 1999. Prosecutors should refer to Achieving Best
Evidence for guidance on Special Measures.
At court, there is a presumption that the child should give evidence through
video recorded evidence and a live link to keep the child out of the court room.
If evidence is to be given by live link, a supporter should sit near the witness.
Specialised child witness support
In some cases, there may be consideration of pre-trial therapy for child victims
to provide them with both emotional support and counselling to decrease their
distress or psychological symptoms and behaviour, or improve their personal
functioning. Whether a vulnerable or intimidated witness should receive
therapy before trial is not a decision for the police or prosecutors. However,
prosecutors should have regard to multi-agency guidance at
Provision of Therapy to Child Witnesses Prior to a Criminal Trial.
Support is available in some areas from specialised child witness support
schemes and studies suggest that children benefit greatly from such support
before, during and after trials where they exist.
Further guidance can be found in the guidance Safeguarding Children and
Young People from Sexual Exploitation (June 2009).
This guidance is aimed at Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB)
partners, practitioners and other professionals working with children and
young people and provides more information on the risk factors and models of
sexual exploitation. It is intended to help them safeguard and promote the
welfare of children and young people who are at risk of, or who are being,
sexually exploited. It is supplementary to, and should be used in conjunction
with, the Government’s statutory guidance, Working together to safeguard
Young people may have no identifying information on them, their documents
may be false or they may have been told to lie about their age to evade
attention from the authorities. Some victims may claim to be adults when they
are in fact under 18 years of age.
Where it is not clear whether the young person is a child (i.e. under 18 years
of age) then in line with the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the
Child, the benefit of the doubt should be given and the young person should
be treated as a child. This is re-enforced in the Council of Europe Convention
on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.
Where there is uncertainty about a suspected victim’s age, Children’s
Services will be responsible for assessing their age. The Local Authority in
whose area the victim has been rescued will have responsibility for the care of
the child as required by the Children Act 1989.
Where a person is brought before any court and it appears that they are a
child or young person, it is the responsibility of the court to make due enquiry
as to their age. The age presumed or declared by the court is then regarded
to be their true age (under section 99 Children and Young Persons Act 1933
and section 150 Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980).
The court should consider any evidence of age that is available at the hearing
of the case, which may include documentary evidence such as a passport,
school records or a PNC printout verified by fingerprints as well as oral
evidence from people who know the child.
For further reference on age assessment refer to R (on the application of A) v
London Borough of Croydon ; R (M) v London Borough of Lambeth
 This case concerned the duty imposed on local authorities in providing
services under the Children’s Act 1989 in instances where the local authorities
disputed age and assessed them as adults.
Victims of forced labour and domestic servitude
Whilst there is greater awareness of trafficking for the purpose of sexual
exploitation, there is less understanding and awareness of trafficking for
forced labour and domestic servitude.
Trafficking for forced labour or domestic servitude covers a wide spectrum of
exploitative situations ranging from those who have been locked up or
severely restricted in their freedom of movement, and physically and sexually
abused, to those who are deceived about the conditions of their contract;
receive little or no financial rewards and reside and work in poor conditions.
All forced labour includes unacceptable working conditions, but not all such
working conditions constitute forced labour. Forced labour alone is just one,
but often the most serious element of the exploitation experienced by
trafficking victims. It crucially implies the use of coercion and lack of
freedom/choice afforded to the victim (as is implicit in the use of the term
‘trafficking’). The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has suggested six
elements which, either individually or together, can indicate forced labour:
threats or actual physical harm;
restriction of movement and confinement to the workplace or to a
withholding of wages or excessive wage reductions, that violate
previously made agreements;
retention of passports and identity documents (the workers can neither
leave nor prove their identity and status);
threat of denunciation to the authorities where the worker is of illegal
Migrant workers – whether illegal migrants or legal migrants working illegally –
are most at risk of exploitation and traffickers use regular migration routes and
work visas, but then utilise debt bondage, the removal of documents and
migrants’ uncertainty about their rights and status to subject victims to forced
labour. Many come expecting certain kinds of work but end up doing others.
Section 4 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 2004 creates specific offences of
trafficking another person for the purposes of domestic servitude or forced
labour (behaviour contravening Article 4 of the European Convention of
Human Rights – slavery or forced labour). Under this legislation, CPS
prosecutors have prosecuted for a range of exploitative situations including
trafficking and exploitation of overseas domestic workers, agricultural workers,
road labourers, restaurant workers and child begging.
A further, specific offence which criminalises servitude and forced labour is
Section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 which creates an offence of
holding another person in slavery or servitude or requiring them to perform
forced or compulsory labour. This offence gives further and specific protection
to those who may be the victims of forced labour or servitude. The offence is
available in circumstances where the person was not trafficked, for example
they might be a British Citizen or came to the UK voluntarily, or the trafficking
element cannot be proved to the criminal standard. This also carries the same
penalties as trafficking for forced labour.
One of the challenges we face in bringing prosecutions against those who
traffic and exploit their employees lies in the fact that few people are willing to
come forward and complain to the police. Exploited migrant workers do not
always consider themselves to be ‘victims’ of a crime. They may be aware
that they are paid less than the minimum wage and work long hours, but
consider their situation here to be better than that offered in their home
country. We want victims to know that our aim is to prosecute those who have
committed these criminal offences against them. Part of that process must
include raising awareness of victim’s rights and how they may have been
deceived. Any case that involves the exploitation of a migrant worker will be
treated seriously by prosecutors and where the evidence supports a criminal
offence, we will usually prosecute.
We recognise that there may be barriers to victims supporting criminal
proceedings, particularly where there may be uncertainty about their
immigration status. Where victims have been identified and referred through
the National Referral Mechanism (see section on victims and witnesses) they
may be entitled to a residence permit if they assist in criminal proceedings or
where their personal circumstances may warrant a grant of leave to remain.
There are a number of support providers who provide dedicated support and
assistance to victims of labour exploitation.
The CPS is working with the Gangmaster Licensing Authority (GLA) and
ACPO to improve the identification of victims and increase the numbers of
investigations and prosecutions against exploitative employers in agricultural
and packing industries. The GLA is in an advantageous position to identify
potential gangmasters who might be committing offences of trafficking and
exploiting victims of forced labour.
Acceptance of Pleas and Sentencing
Acceptance of Pleas
Defendants may want to plead guilty to some, but not all, of the charges.
Alternatively, they may want to plead guilty to a different, possibly less
serious, charge because they are admitting only part of the crime.
Prosecutors should only accept the defendant’s offer of a guilty plea (or pleas)
if they think the court is able to pass a sentence that matches the seriousness
of the offending, particularly where there are aggravating features. For
example, the defendant may offer pleas to offences other than human
trafficking offences such as rape or false imprisonment, which carry more
severe punishment than human trafficking. A plea to such offences in the
appropriate case may be acceptable. Prosecutors must never accept a guilty
plea just because it is convenient.
In considering whether to accept the pleas offered, prosecutors should ensure
that the interests and views of the victim where possible, are taken into
account when deciding whether it is in the public interest to accept the plea.
However the decision rests with the prosecutor.
It must be made clear to the court on what basis any plea is advanced and
accepted. In cases where a defendant pleads guilty to the charges but on the
basis of facts that are different to the prosecution case, and where this may
significantly affect sentence, the court should be invited to hear evidence to
determine what happened, and then sentence on that basis.
Where a defendant has previously indicated that he or she will ask the court
to take an offence into consideration when sentencing, but then declines to
admit that offence at court, prosecutors will consider whether a prosecution is
required for that offence.
Particular care must be taken when considering pleas which would enable the
defendant to avoid the imposition of a mandatory minimum sentence. When
pleas are offered, prosecutors must also bear in mind the fact that ancillary
orders can be made with some offences but not with others.
Prosecutors must comply with the Attorney General’s Guidelines on the
Acceptance of Pleas and the Prosecutor’s Role in the Sentencing Exercise
which sets out in greater detail the extent of prosecutors’ duties and role in the
acceptance of guilty pleas.
The Prosecutor’s Role in Sentencing
Sentencing is a decision for the court but prosecutors have a duty to offer
assistance to the sentencing court in reaching its decision as to the
appropriate sentence. The appropriate disposal of a criminal case after
conviction is as much a part of the criminal justice process as the trial. This
will include drawing the court’s attention to the following factors:
any aggravating and mitigating factors disclosed by the prosecution
any Victim Personal Statement;
where appropriate, evidence of the impact of the offending on a
any statutory provisions, sentencing guidelines or guideline cases
which may assist; and
any statutory provisions relating to ancillary orders, for example
confiscation, forfeiture, or deportation of the defendant(s).
The prosecuting advocate may also offer assistance to the court by making
submissions as to the appropriate sentencing range in light of these factors
and in accordance with the Sentencing Council.
Before being sentenced, a defendant is entitled to make a plea in mitigation.
We will challenge defence mitigation which is misleading, untrue or which
unfairly attacks the victim’s character.
Some trafficking cases have established guidelines for judges to follow in
cases where there may be similar aggravating factors, although there are no
guarantees that the court will follow them. When judges pass a sentence
which has similar aggravating or mitigating factors but the sentence appears
to fall significantly lower than the guidelines advise, we can consider referring
this case to the Attorney General to review the sentence for appealing as an
unduly lenient sentence (see below)
Ancillary or Additional Orders
Prosecutors will also consider and apply for other ancillary orders to protect
victims of crime from future offending. Ancillary, or additional, orders can be
used to address the harm caused by offenders and ensure that effective
measures are put in place to prevent repeat victimisation. They can be used
at different stages of the investigation or prosecution process or applied for at
the sentencing stage.
These are just a few examples of some of the Ancillary Orders we can apply
for which are relevant to human trafficking:
Risk of Sexual Harm Order (RSHO); this is a civil preventative order
used to protect children from the risks posed by adults engaged in
sexual activity with a child;
Serious Crime Prevention Orders (SCPOs)
Cash seizure and Forfeiture order;
Restraint Order which has the effect of freezing property anywhere in
the world that may be liable to be sold to satisfy a Confiscation Order;
Deportation where a foreign national who is subject to immigration
control if he or she has been convicted of an offence,
Deprivation of property which enables the court to deprive an offender
of property, used, or intended to be used to commit an offence, for
example a vehicle.
Restraining Order on acquittal
Registration on the Sex Offenders Register
European Arrest Warrant which is a request made between judicial
authorities of the EU for the extradition of persons to be prosecuted,
sentenced, or to serve a sentence already imposed.
Financial Reporting Orders,
Appealing unduly lenient sentences
If the judge passes a sentence which the prosecution considers to be unduly
lenient because it does not reflect the seriousness of the offence, the CPS will
ask the Attorney general to review the sentence. This must be done within 28
days of the sentencing decision. If the Attorney General thinks the sentence is
unduly lenient, the Attorney General can refer it to the Court of Appeal.
However, not all of the Human Trafficking legislation is capable of being
referred as an unduly lenient sentence; trafficking for non-sexual exploitation
under section 4 Asylum and Immigration Act 2004 is not an offence which is
The application to the Court of Appeal must be made within 28 days of the
sentence. The Court of Appeal decides whether or not the sentence is unduly
lenient and, if it is, whether to increase the sentence.
There are a number of mechanisms by which a victim might seek
Through prosecutors requesting a compensation order upon conviction
in appropriate cases under sections 130 -132 of the Powers of the
Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000, which provides for
compensation orders against defendants.
Through confiscation and compensation under section 13(2) of the
Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Here, the court must determine any
application for confiscation before considering a compensation order,
however, the court has a discretion under section 13(5) and (6) POCA
2002 to make both a compensation order and a confiscation order
against the same person in the same proceedings if it believes that the
defendant will have sufficient means to satisfy both orders in full.
Prosecutors can apply for these post conviction. However, alternative
avenues to claim compensation are:
Through the victim suing the offender in the civil courts. Civil litigation
enables the victim to hold a defendant personally accountable for his
actions, though funding for legal representation to pursue a civil
compensation claim is often a bar to this course of action.
Through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). This
scheme compensates for personal injuries awards to victims of crime
and fatal injury awards to immediate family members of a victim who
has died as a result of a violent crime. To claim, the victim must have
sustained physical or mental injuries as a result of a violent crime. A
victim claiming mental injury without physical injury must demonstrate
they were put in considerable fear of immediate physical harm.
For further helpful practical guidance on mechanisms to claim compensation,
please refer to Rights and Recourse – A Guide to Legal Remedies for
trafficked Persons in the UK, published by Eaves and Anti-Slavery. This guide
also provides advice on the mechanisms to pursue compensation under civil
law and, for victims who have been exploited for forced labour or domestic
servitude, through Employment Tribunals.
Prosecuting suspects who might be trafficked
We are aware that adults and young people may be arrested by the police
and charged with criminal offences, but who might be trafficked victims. This
most frequently arises when they have been trafficked or smuggled here to
commit criminal offences, but can arise in circumstances where they are
escaping from their trafficking situation.
If the circumstances of the arrest or the evidence referred to the prosecutor
suggest that someone may have been trafficked, we will ask the police to
make relevant enquiries and obtain further information. Our guidance advises
prosecutors that when reviewing a case in which there are suspicions that the
suspect might be a victim of trafficking, they should cause enquiries to be
made and obtain further information about the circumstances in which the
suspect was apprehended. Information may also be considered from other
sources, such as a non government organisation that supports trafficked
If new information or evidence supports the fact that the suspect has been
trafficked and has committed the offence whilst in a coerced situation, there is
a strong public interest to stop the prosecution. Where there is clear evidence
that the suspect has a credible defence of duress, the case should be
discontinued on evidential grounds. [But see Children and Youths section
The guidance provides clarity for prosecutors about the circumstances of the
person’s situation which might support a defence of duress in law, relevant
factors when deciding where the public interest lies, and clarity around the
more subtle forms of coercion exercised by traffickers and exploiters. This
guidance has been recognised by the Courts in the case of R v O 
EWCA Crim 2835 which highlights the need for prosecutors and defence
lawyers to take all reasonable steps to identify victims of trafficking and be
pro-active in causing enquiries to be made.
However, a prosecutor can only take these steps if they have information from
the police or other sources that a suspect might be a victim of trafficking and
is only relevant where the criminality is as a direct consequence of the
trafficking situation. There must also be consideration of the extent to which
the victim was compelled to undertake the unlawful activity.
Identification and referral through the National Referral Mechanism should
assist in the detection of victims of trafficking before they are arrested or
charged. Where victims have received either a reasonable grounds decision
or a conclusive grounds decision that they are a trafficked victim, this should
be taken into account when considering the decision to proceed with a
The CPS cannot give a guarantee of immunity from prosecution to those who
are apprehended and arrested by the police who later turn out to be trafficked.
The statutory obligations placed on the CPS by the Prosecution of Offences
Act 1985 require Crown Prosecutors to review each case received from police
investigators in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.
If a suspect has either been convicted of, or pleaded guilty to a criminal
offence but has not yet been sentenced, and it comes to light that they had
committed the offence as a direct consequence of their trafficking situation,
the suspect’s legal representative must make relevant representations to the
court. If the CPS were made aware of any individual cases involving
unrepresented defendants, the CPS would then consider a further review of
Children and youths
Children are often trafficked to be exploited in criminal activities. Their first
encounter then is likely to be with law enforcement and they may be reluctant
to disclose the circumstances of their exploitation for fear of reprisal from their
traffickers. Prosecutors should be alert then to the circumstances of their
arrest and be pro-active in causing enquiries to be made (See R v O 
EWCA Crim 2835)
Where young people are involved and where there is a credible suspicion that
the child or youth might have been trafficked and exploited through criminal
activity, then that would generally provide a defence of duress. If new
information or evidence supports the fact that the child or youth has been
trafficked and has committed the offence whilst in a coerced situation, then
there is a strong public interest to stop the prosecution.
However, there must be consideration of whether the criminality is as a direct
consequence of their trafficking situation.
Anyone who has a complaint about the way they have been treated by the
CPS, or who feels that the criminal justice system has let them down and
does not know who may be responsible, can write to the Chief Crown
Prosecutor for the CPS Area where they live or where the investigation has
occurred. The CPS has a complaints policy, and a leaflet describing the
procedure to follow which can be obtained from the local CPS office.
Breaches of The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime should be referred
initially to the Crown Prosecution Service to be dealt with under our
complaints procedures. If the complainant remains dissatisfied, the complaint
can be investigated and reported on by the Parliamentary Ombudsman.
Contact points for the CPS are printed on the back cover of this document.
The CPS is committed to playing our part in improving the way that cases of
human trafficking are dealt with in the criminal justice system and to
increasing the number of cases that we prosecute. We want victims and the
public to have confidence in the way in which we review and progress cases.
We hope that this document will help those who support trafficked victims,
whether professionally or personally, victims themselves and the general
public to understand the work of the CPS, how we make our decisions and
the different stages of the prosecution process.
We will continue to work with our colleagues in the criminal justice system and
the third sector at international, national and local levels to help us develop
We will review this policy statement regularly so that it reflects current law and
thinking. We welcome any comments and observations that help us to do this.
Comments and suggestions can be made to the:
Crown Prosecution Service
Strategy and Policy Directorate
Legislation for cases involving victims of
Sexual Offences Act
Section 52 and 53
Sections 4 – 14
Trafficking into the UK for sexual exploitation;
Trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation;
Trafficking out of the UK for sexual exploitation;
Causing or inciting and controlling prostitution for
Paying for the services of a prostitute subjected to
force or exploitation;
Rape and other offences of causing sexual activity
and sexual assault against children u/18.
Paying for the sexual services of a child
Causing or inciting child prostitution
Controlling or arranging child prostitution
Asylum and Immigration
(Treatment of Claimants)
Section 4(1), (2) and (3) Trafficking into (1), within (2) and out of (3) the UK for
exploitation: slavery or forced labour, human organ
donation, to provide services or provide another
person with benefits
Coroners and Justice
Holding another person in slavery or servitude or
requiring them to perform forced or compulsory
Immigration Act 1971
Section 25 Facilitation of immigration law (smuggling)
Sexual Offences Act
Sections 35 and 36
Managing or assisting in the management of a brothel
To let premises for use as a brothel
Allowing a tenant to use premises as a brothel or for
the purposes of prostitution
Offences against the
Persons Act 1861
Threats to kill
Assault occasioning actual bodily harm
Unlawful wounding / inflicting grievous bodily harm
Unlawful wounding / inflicting grievous bodily harm
Common law Kidnap
Aiding and abetting a criminal offence
Proceeds of Crime Act
Sections 327, 328 and
Violent Crime Reduction
Forfeiture to seize and forfeit land vehicles, ships and
aircraft used for the trafficking of human beings
Abduction Act 1984
Section 2 Child abduction
The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) was incorporated into
UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998.
The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons,
especially Women and Children supplementing the United Nations
Convention on Transnational Organised Crime (Palermo 2000)
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions No 29 and 182
The Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human
Convention Against the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
List of Agencies
The following agencies provide support and / or advice to victims of
Amnesty International UK
Eaves Housing for Women (POPPY Project)
English Collective of Prostitutes
Hope for Justice
International Office of Migration (IOM)
National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux
National Federation of Women's Institutes
National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)
Safe and Sound Derby
Save the Children
Stop the Traffik
UK Network of Sex Work Projects
Welsh Women’s Aid
The postponement of the hearing of a case until a future date.
A request for a higher court to change a decision made by a lower court.
The release of a person held in custody while awaiting trial or appealing
against a criminal conviction.
When a suspect is formally accused of committing a crime.
These are non-criminal proceedings that usually take place in the County or
Code for Crown Prosecutors
A document that sets out how the CPS makes decisions about cases. It is
widely available to the public from any of our offices, and it is on the internet
A person who alleges a crime has been committed against them.
A decision a jury that the defendant is guilty.
Challenging the evidence given by a witness in court.
A court where criminal cases are dealt with by a judge and a jury of twelve
members of the public. The cases heard in the Crown Court are those likely to
attract higher sentences (for example, human trafficking, rape, and murder).
A person charged with a criminal offence.
The information given to the court to help make it to make a decision about
whether or not a defendant is guilty. ‘Evidence-in-chief’ is the evidence
presented to the court during the examination-in-chief.
The questioning of the witness by the party who called him or her.
Prosecution witnesses will be questioned first by the prosecution, before
being cross-examined by the defence.
An interpreter is a person specifically trained to help children and adults who
cannot speak English or is a Deaf person, to be able to communicate at the
police station and at court.
When a defendant says he or she is guilty or not guilty.
The person who presents the case against one or more defendants.
Prosecutors present cases on behalf of the Crown (in other words, the state)
and do not act on behalf of victims.
This involved the questioning of a witness in court by the person who
originally called him or her to give evidence. It follows cross-examination.
The help for witnesses that a court can offer so that they can give their best
evidence in court. They include: live video links, video recorded statements,
screens around the witness box, and assistance with communication.
This occurs after a defendant has entered a not guilty plea or refuses to enter
a plea. The judge and jury hear what happened from the prosecution and
defence, so that they can make up their minds about whether or not the
defendant is guilty.
A person who has had a crime committed against them.
A person who can give relevant evidence in a criminal case. This will usually
include the victim of a crime.
Witness Care Unit
Run by the police and CPS, Witness Care Units provide help and information
for victims and prosecution witnesses.
Crown Prosecution Service
Strategy and Policy Directorate
2 Southwark Bridge
London SE1 9HS