POLICE will target hotels in a crackdown on forced prostitution in Scotland, after human-trafficking reports rose in the first half of this year.
Leaflets are being handed out to businesses and the wider public, warning of the signs that someone is being exploited, with the hospitality industry a key focus.
They also raise the possibility of trafficking for organ harvesting, although police say there has been no evidence of this in Scotland to date. There has been some intelligence about the crime south of the Border
Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham, of Police Scotland, said: “We know there are businesses where human trafficking may be going on.
“The first area is the hotel trade and hospitality where we do have evidence and experience of sexual exploitation and human trafficking, and I suspect a very long history of certain hotels and establishments being part of that.
“The second will be exploitation through labour and forced labour in farming, agriculture and fisheries, where we have intelligence, evidence and experience of people being vulnerable to exploitation.”
There were 64 trafficking referrals in January to July this year, compared to 40 in the first half of 2012.
Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland said the age of trafficking victims was very concerning.
“One of the points that should be overlooked in this is the effect on children,” Scotland’s senior prosecutor said. “The average age of a woman – a girl in fact – trafficked across the world is 14. That’s something that we should be very concerned about.”
Justice secretary Kenny MacAskill added: “It’s an appalling heinous act to traffick another human being. We have to punish those who perpetrate it and protect victims.”
The leaflets are designed to educate people on telltale signs that someone may be a victim of trafficking.