Trafficking prosecutions rise following new laws

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image captionTrafficking victims are now more likely to be domestic workers or labourers

Prosecutors from across the UK have signed up to new commitments to tackle human trafficking and exploitation.

It comes as figures suggest trafficking prosecutions in England and Wales have increased since the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act in April.

Victims forced into jobs as labourers or domestic workers are now thought to exceed those who are sexually exploited, the data shows.

A summit will be held later to react to the changing nature of the crime.

The Modern Slavery Act has already increased maximum sentences and given courts powers to restrict the activities of suspected traffickers and gang-masters.

Since it was brought in, 12 slavery and trafficking prevention orders have been put in place and 183 people were taken to court between April and December, four short of the total for the previous 12 months, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

The new commitments set out the ways in which prosecutors in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will work closely together in order to disrupt networks, prosecute traffickers and safeguard victims' rights.

'Paying dividends'

These include working closely with the police in order to ensure that the strongest possible cases are prepared and prosecuted; reviewing and updating the training of staff that investigate and prosecute trafficking and ensuring the rights of victims, witnesses and potential victims of human trafficking are upheld.

Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales, said: "We have seen an increase in trafficking people for the purpose of sham marriages and it is also now the case that the number of victims, many of whom are men, trafficked to be labourers or domestic workers is exceeding those for sexual exploitation."

She added: "Our focus on these crimes is already paying dividends. This year we're already on track for more people facing trafficking charges in England and Wales than ever before.

"We are also working with national and international partners in priority locations in Europe and Africa as part of the UK effort to disrupt people smuggling and trafficking at their source or in transit."

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