Human Trafficking, the trade in humans for sexual slavery and forced labour, has been found to be growing rapidly over the last couple of years both in the UK and worldwide, and the UK government have seen fit to start bringing in help to get these numbers down. And, as I’m sure you well know, trafficking in persons is a serious crime, breaking the law and, predominantly, defying human rights. Thousands of men, women and children become victim of traffickers both in their own countries and abroad, and almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking whether of a country of origin, transit or tourism.

Specialist anti-slavery officials are being placed in UK airports in order to help reduce the amount of human trafficking taking place across the country. The government have claimed that this new scheme aims to ensure there is no easy route into the UK for traffickers. The teams, led by specially trained Border Agency officers, will begin work at Heathrow, the UK’s biggest airport, in April – followed by Gatwick and Manchester in later months if their attempts prove to be successful. The officers will have the main duties of identifying and disrupting criminal gangs involved in trafficking internationally as well as just in the UK. This, it is said, is aiming to bring down the ever-increasing numbers of trafficking victims of recent months and give citizens a little more comfort.

In 2013, the amount of UK minors found to be victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation was 56, a rise of 155% on 2012. Similarly, foreign potential victims in the UK has also increased, rising by 11% to 88. Last year, it was identified that, from 112 countries, 1,746 minors were potential victims, which is a 47% increase worldwide, after the number of traffickers has greatly grown in size. Nearly two thirds of those referred to were female (1,122) and around a quarter (450) were children. Shockingly, child victims, the most common type of victim with trafficking, are most commonly found in Vietnam, the UK, and Albania, making the UK the second most common offending country in the world. Andrew Wallis, Chief Executive at an organisation named Unseen, helping to challenge human trafficking, said the UK did not have the mechanisms in place to gather more accurate figures on the illicit trade – meaning there may be many untreated cases out there.

Similarly, Home Office Minister Karen Bradley recently stated that these figures are ‘unlikely to show the full scale of modern slavery nor the human suffering behind each statistic’. Not to mention, not all cases will have been discovered; there are still thousands suffering all across the world at the hands of human trafficking, and it has to stop. This is why it has recently been announced that the maximum custodial sentence for human trafficking offenders may be increased from 14 years to life, in order to convey the serious consequences of the crime. Karen also stated that the anti-slavery officers will be supported by the National Crime Agency which will bring its child protection expertise to bear in cases involving children. The UK are really trying to stamp out all traces of human trafficking, something that was always there but never as common as it appears to be currently.

In Wales, a mass influx of human trafficking has been reported, and this, in addition to increasing UK airport security, has convinced officials to produce a campaign, being launched to increase the public awareness of slavery and human trafficking. Adverts are said to begin after the watershed, 9pm, and will also be on buses and bus shelters across Wales. Recently, a man and woman were jailed in Wales for trafficking two Czech women in the sex industry, admitting to four counts of trafficking for prostitution. The women were set to work in Cardiff, in appalling conditions, and eventually gained support from Safer Wales, a human rights charity.

Shocking as it is, UK officials have no hopes to flush out trafficking for good; the numbers are increasing by the day, and it is almost impossible to track down each victim of the crime. However, if Karen Bradley can be optimistic about the cause, especially involving increased supplies in helping children, then we should be too. Here’s hoping that child abuse and trafficking overall decreases in numbers next year!

References:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26292265

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/what-is-human-trafficking.html?ref=menuside

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26234092

http://www.itv.com/news/wales/update/2014-01-27/two-jailed-after-admitting-human-trafficking/