MSPs urged over human trafficking

Human rights campaigners are set to challenge MSPs to get to grips with Scotland's disproportionate level of human trafficking.

Police estimate that Scotland had 13.5% of the UK's trade in humans despite the country having less than 10% of the UK population.

However, Scotland has only secured two successful prosecutions to date, compared to over 150 in England and Wales.

Human rights group Amnesty International will appear before Holyrood's Equal Opportunities Committee to discuss Scotland's problem of human trafficking.

In a submission to MSPs ahead of the committee, programme director Shabnum Mustapha said: "There still appears to be a problem in Scotland with successful prosecutions for trafficking offences.

"Proving a charge of human trafficking is difficult and Amnesty acknowledges the point made by Scotland's Lord Advocate in 2010 that convictions have been made in relation to lower tariff crimes such as immoral earnings or keeping brothels.

"However, as trafficking convictions continue to be made in addition to these lesser offences in England and Wales, more must be done to understand the reasons for the disparity in conviction rates within the UK."

Last month, two sex traffickers were jailed for a total of almost five years for controlling prostitutes in the UK.

In the first case of its kind in Scotland, Stephen Craig, 34, was jailed for three years and four months for arranging travel, accommodation and advertising for 14 women. His co-accused, Sarah Beukan, 22, was jailed for a year-and-a-half for her part in the trafficking network operated by Craig.

They were the first people to be convicted in Scotland under new legislation covering trafficking within the UK.