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Director of Public Prosecutions launches human trafficking agreement

Published 26/02/2016

The Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland is today launching a landmark agreement with the UK’s other prosecuting authorities to work more closely together to tackle human trafficking.

Barra McGrory QC is in London to sign a joint series of Commitments for prosecutors which set out the over-arching aim of working more collaboratively in the fight against the trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable victims.

“Sadly human trafficking is happening here in Northern Ireland. By its very nature, this abhorrent trade has no respect for boundaries and therefore must be fought at an international level,” Mr McGrory said.

“The launch of these joint Commitments will provide a stronger foundation for prosecutors – along with law enforcement agencies - to tackle cases with a more joined-up, dynamic and sophisticated approach. This is a clear signal of how important this issue is to the Public Prosecution Service.”

The Prosecutor Commitments are due to be launched at an event being hosted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in London this morning. The Director of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales, Alison Saunders, will be joined by Scotland’s Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC and Mr McGrory to sign them together.

The Commitments focus on six key areas of mutual interest between the respective authorities which reflect an overall principle of greater collaboration to disrupt networks, prosecute traffickers and safeguard victims’ rights within the criminal justice process.

Among the practical steps outlined in the Commitments are:

  • Continued support for victims and witnesses of human trafficking who often face difficulties in giving evidence in criminal cases;
  • The sharing of best practice, expertise and relevant information;
  • The sharing of lessons learned from cases in other jurisdictions;
  • The sharing of training and development;
  • Ensuring that the welfare of victims, witnesses and potential victims are at the heart of a prosecutor’s approach;
  • Continued engagement with Non-Governmental Organisations which work to eradicate human trafficking and support its victims.

Prosecutors from the PPS have been involved in drafting the Commitments along with counterparts in the CPS and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal since October 2014.

Work has also been on-going between the prosecution authorities and police services across the UK.

Barra McGrory added: “Human trafficking is a heinous crime. The strongest way to halt this cruel trade is to disrupt the perpetrators’ very complex methods of operation. The role that prosecutors can play in disrupting these methods is to bring those responsible before the courts where there is the evidence to do so.

“The PPS has always had good relationships with the prosecuting authorities in the UK, the Republic of Ireland and beyond, with strong examples of joint working on an international level.

“However, what the launch of the Commitments does is strengthen that approach and put it on a formal footing for the future. What it does is send a message to traffickers that we are determined to work together to do everything in our power to halt human trafficking and help protect victims.”

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