Scotland

Children found in Scotland-wide trafficking crackdown

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Media captionPolice officers across the country were involved in a day of action aimed at raising awareness about people trafficking

Police say they have identified 11 potential victims of human trafficking - including six people under the age of 18 - in a major Scotland-wide operation.

About 500 officers from every police division took part in the day of action, which resulted in 15 arrests.

Officers were joined by colleagues from HMRC as they visited businesses, including nail bars.

The force said one person had been detained on suspicion of trafficking.

A further two people have been arrested for immigration offences, while 12 others have been arrested by immigrations enforcement officers.

Criminal gangs

The operation also aimed to identify people at potential risk or those being exploited as slave labour.

Police said that the six children had been found working in nail bars across Scotland and displayed indicators of trafficking.

Senior officers have said the scale of human trafficking in Scotland is unclear.

Police Scotland hopes to help the public become more aware of the signs that may indicate that someone has been trafficked.

Those leading this latest operation said they were determined to crack down on criminal gangs who deal in people to make profits.

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Image caption There were 145 potential victims of trafficking identified in Scotland last year

Det Ch Insp Stuart Houston told BBC Scotland: "This is organised crime that is quite often behind exploitation and trafficking of individuals. We need to know about that and need to try and take some action against these groups."

Last week, new Scottish government guidelines were launched as part of the country's first human trafficking strategy.

Consumers are being urged to look for signs that people have been trafficked and consider whether people working in their local nail bar, car wash or shop may be in danger or vulnerable.

The most recent figures have suggested that trafficking has increased in Scotland.

Last year there were 145 potential victims of trafficking identified - a 31% increase on the previous year.

More than a third were trafficked into forced labour while another third were forced to work in the sex industry.

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