Section 12 of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 places a requirement on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to produce an annual strategy on offences under section 1 and 2 of the Act (slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking). The draft strategy which we are consulting on has been developed by the Department after extensive engagement with both civil society partners on the DOJ’s Human Trafficking Engagement Group and statutory partners on the Organised Crime Task Force’s (OCTF) Immigration and Human Trafficking Subgroup. It builds on the work that has already been progressed under the 2013/14 and 2014/15 human trafficking action plans for Northern Ireland.
In line with section 12 of the Act, the purpose of the draft strategy is to raise awareness of human trafficking and slavery-like offences in Northern Ireland and to contribute to a reduction in the number of such offences.
The overarching aim of the draft strategy is:
“To equip Northern Ireland to drive out human trafficking, slavery and forced labour”.
This aim is underpinned by four strategic priorities:
Pursue (effective detection, disruption, investigation and prosecution of offenders);
Protect and support (provision of effective protection and support and improved identification of victims;
Prevent (prevent and reduce risk of human trafficking and exploitation in Northern Ireland); and
Partnership (effective partnership response to human trafficking and exploitation).
These priorities are in turn supported by a number of key objectives and SMART actions which the DOJ and its partners have committed to delivering during 2015/16.