Albanians among Human Trafficking Victims in Scotland
By Tom Gordon
Albanian Daily News
Published August 30, 2017
A new map has exposed the extent of human trafficking the length and breadth of Scotland, with potential victims reported from the Borders to the Orkney Islands.
Produced to raise public awareness of the crime, the map includes all of Scotland’s cities.
But far from being a solely urban problem, trafficking victims were also found in villages and rural communities, including Annan in Dumfriesshire, Elgin in Moray, Appin in Argyll & Bute, and Alva in Clackmannanshire.
According to National Crime Agency statistics, the number of reported victims in Scotland was 150 in 2016, a third of them children, with the total up 52 per cent in just three years.
The most common forms of trafficking were slave labour and sexual exploitation, with most victims from Vietnam, China and Albania.
Scotland accounted for 3.9 per cent of the 3805 victims in the UK.
Last week, it emerged a specialist Home Office force based at Glasgow Airport team had intercepted almost 100 suspected trafficking victims among passengers in a year.
More were Romanian women who appeared destined to work in the sex trade.
The map, produced by Police Scotland, Migrant Help and the Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA), shows victims in 27 of Scotland’s 32 council areas since 2011.
The crime, which sees adults and children traded and exploited for another’s benefit, leaves its victims with lasting physical and psychological damage.
As well as being forced into prostitution, victims in Scotland have been rescued while working in nail bars, car washes and building sites.
However a recent survey found 54 per cent of Scots thought it was not a problem in their local community.
Highlighting the widespread nature of the crime, Justice Secretary 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.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Lesley Boal, head of Public Protection for Police Scotland said tackling human trafficking was a priority for the force.
She said: “It is exploitation and victimisation of vulnerable people, and while challenging and complex to investigate, we are determined to improve the intelligence picture in order to gain a better understanding of trafficking in Scotland and the organised crime groups involved.
“We will target those who control, abuse and exploit others by working collaboratively with partners to ensure that Scotland is a hostile environment to this sickening trade.”
Bronagh Andrew, operations manager at TARA, said: “Since 2004, we have supported women who have been trafficked and sexually exploited within Scotland’s sex industry. “Women have been recovered, not just from our cities, but from towns and villages across the length and breadth of Scotland.
“It is vital that we address the harm caused to vulnerable women, whilst also tackling the demand that is driving this abuse of human rights.”
John Merralls, senior operations manager at Migrant Help UK, said: “We know first-hand the breadth and depth of this blight on society and how this is not isolated to any particular location in Scotland, but covers significant areas both urban and rural.”