Human Trafficking campaign launched by Michael Matheson MSP

Date: 5th September 2017
Category: Child trafficking

A new awareness campaign has revealed that human trafficking is closer than many people think. The Scottish Government have identified the locations where human trafficking takes place, to challenge perceptions that the crime is confined to Scotland's major towns and cities.

Research published as part of the Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy this year showed that 54% of people don't believe human trafficking is an issue in their local area - however, the identified locations include 27 of Scotland's 32 local authorities.

Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson said:
"Human trafficking is an appalling abuse of human rights. This horrific crime affects the most vulnerable in society and has wide reaching consequences for its victims.

"Generating awareness that the exploitation of adults and children is happening in Scotland today is key to bringing it to an end. This important campaign is part of a series of measures being implemented to eliminate this terrible crime. No one should ever be bought or sold."

Organisations backing the campaign, including Police Scotland, Migrant Help and Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA), stressed the importance of bringing the largely hidden crime out into the open as they encouraged the public to report any concerns they may have.

Human trafficking is a complex crime which involves adults and children being traded and exploited for personal benefit. It is an abuse of human rights which causes victims lasting physical and psychological damage.

Trafficking can involve victims being sexually exploited or forced into the role of a servant, or trapped in forced labour, with nail bars, car washes and construction amongst the industries where potential cases in Scotland have been reported.

Latest figures show there were 150 potential victims of trafficking identified in Scotland in 2016 - a 52% increase since 2013.

The Scottish Government recently published its Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy, developed to identify and support victims, identify perpetrators and disrupt activity, and address the conditions which foster trafficking.

There has been a year-on-year increase in the number of trafficked children in Scotland. Nine children were trafficked in 2011. This rose to 32 children in 2015 and a further 20 cases were reported up to September 2016.