Scotland’s first human trafficking strategy seeks help from public

Many migrants are illeagally trafficked into the UK. Photo: Getty Images
Many migrants are illeagally trafficked into the UK. Photo: Getty Images
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Members of the public will be urged to help identify potential victims of human trafficking as part of a strategy to eradicate the crime.

The Scottish Government plans to launch a campaign to raise awareness of trafficking and exploitation, and consider how people can report their suspicions in a straightforward way.

The strategy, which will now go out for public consultation, also sets out proposals to improve detection and prevention, including cross-border action by police and courts, and how to better support victims.

There were 145 potential victims of trafficking identified in Scotland in 2015 - a 31% increase on 2014.

Around a third were trafficked into forced labour, while another third were forced to work in the sex industry.

READ MORE: Human trafficking has ‘no place’ in Scotland

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Human trafficking is an abhorrent crime, causing lasting physical and psychological damage, yet such exploitation is happening in Scotland today.

“The new Human Trafficking and Exploitation Act has already created a new offence of trafficking with a possible maximum life sentence. Today’s draft strategy sets out the approach to address trafficking and exploitation, aimed at exposing and eradicating these crimes.

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“We want to support victims to safety and recovery, identify and disrupt perpetrators, and address the conditions, local and global, that foster trafficking and exploitation. In order to do that, cross-border working, including continued support from Europol is absolutely vital.

“I encourage anyone who has encountered such crimes - as a victim or witness or any other interested party - to have their say and help shape our action against these vile criminals. There must be no place to hide for them in Scotland.”

Deputy Chief Constable Johnny Gwynne said: “Trafficking is often a hidden crime and its victims frequently don’t see themselves as such, therefore we proactively look for victims.

“Police Scotland has a dedicated human trafficking unit which brings a high level of expertise and robust investigative techniques to identifying both victims and perpetrators.

“Police Scotland encourages reporting and would ask the public and businesses to be socially and ethically aware - if you suspect someone is being exploited and may have been trafficked, please contact us on 101.”

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