Boy found ‘cowering in bushes’ escaped from human traffickers

The boy is said to have been taken from his country to Russia before then being brought to Scotland. Picture: John Devlin
The boy is said to have been taken from his country to Russia before then being brought to Scotland. Picture: John Devlin

A 16-year-old boy is being cared for by social services after he escaped from human traffickers.

The teenager, thought to be from Vietnam, was found by a member of the public hiding close to Overtoun House in Dumbarton on 16 January.

He is said to have been taken from his country to Russia before then being brought to Scotland.

Police said he escaped from a vehicle and ran for around an hour before being discovered.

Details emerged at a meeting of West Dunbartonshire Council’s community planning management board last week and have been confirmed by Police Scotland.

A local newspaper quoted Chief Superintendent Grant Manders from the meeting, who said: “A young Vietnamese boy, 16 years old, came into our care having been trafficked from Vietnam to Russia.

“Smashing wee boy escaped his traffickers up in West Dunbartonshire and was found cowering in the bushes having escaped from wherever he might have been going.”

Detective Constable Andy Docherty said: “He was found in quite a distressed state.

“We quickly established that he was of Vietnamese origin and he stated that he was subject to a human trafficking.

“Inquiries are ongoing.”

Police Scotland are investigating how he escaped and where from, and have appealed for any witnesses to contact officers on 101.

The boy is believed to have escaped from a vehicle and ran for about an hour from the site of his escape before being found. The council said the teenager had since been taken in by carers.

Earlier this month Police Scotland warned they expect to see a rise in human trafficking cases as a result of laws that put an onus on ­public bodies to raise concerns. The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act requires those working in the public sector to notify Police Scotland of anyone thought to be a victim.

Recent figures from the National Crime Agency (NCA) highlighted by The Scotsman show both adults and children are being brought to Scotland from as far afield as Africa and south-east Asia for the ­purposes of labour exploitation and prostitution.

Police said recent cases have included domestic servitude, where a trafficked person has ended up working as a servant, or people being trafficked to work in brothels.

The most recent figures from the NCA show children from as far away as Nigeria and Somalia being brought to Scotland. Victims from Africa, Asia and eastern Europe were among those reported using the UK National Referral Mechanism.

Under the 2015 legislation, anyone found to be involved in human trafficking could face a life sentence.

Speaking earlier this month, Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Houston, of Police Scotland’s National Human Trafficking Unit, said: “We need to build on the intelligence picture to try and gauge that the best we can.

“Recent increases show that first responders are recognising the signs – we should be positive about the fact we are rescuing people.”