Scotland

Scots police seek 'human trafficking' aid

Human trafficking victims
Image caption There were 93 suspected victims of the crime in Scotland in 2011

The Scottish business community has been asked to help in the latest campaign against people trafficking.

A new information leaflet has been produced to help increase awareness of the issue and gather information from local communities.

Human trafficking often has links with organised crime gangs, involves both adults and children.

It takes many forms including sexual exploitation, as well as forcing victims into manual or domestic labour.

The most recent figures - from 2011 - showed there were 93 suspected victims of trafficking in Scotland.

The new initiative is designed to increase awareness of the problem, and a leaflet entitled Human Trafficking - Reading the Signs has been designed by Police Scotland.

Organised crime

It has been endorsed by the Scottish government and will be distributed through the Scottish Business Resilience Centre to the business community.

Although sometimes referred to as "hidden crime", some indications displayed by victims are obvious and simply require recognition and action, the leaflet says.

Members of the public and private industry have been asked to be vigilant to signs such as people having had their documents removed and who are frightened or anxious.

Other indications can include poor living conditions, lack of access to earnings, no time off and threats against their families.

On many occasions people known to the victim carry out the trafficking, but there are often links to serious and organised crime.

'Misery for profit'

Since 1 April the National Human Trafficking Unit has been operating within Police Scotland to address the issues and target those responsible.

Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham, head of Major Crime and Public Protection at Police Scotland, said: "Human beings are not commodities to be bought or sold.

"Police Scotland will pro-actively target any individual who is believed to be taking advantage of desperate and vulnerable people or willing to trade misery for profit."

Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill said the crime was "abhorrent and heinous", adding: "Human trafficking destroys the lives of those who are exploited by criminals."

Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, added: "Human trafficking is one of the most contemptible crimes committed. I totally support this initiative to help disrupt and stop those individuals who use human beings for profit."

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