Wales politics

Human trafficking: Welsh ports 'soft target' warning

Welsh ports could be seen as a "soft target" for human traffickers, warns the official in charge of tackling the problem.

Stephen Chapman says that trafficked people are living as slaves in Wales.

Speaking to Sunday Politics Wales, he said the problem touches both urban and rural parts of Wales.

The new anti-human trafficking co-ordinator for Wales pledged to "seek and locate" victims and rescue them.

Mr Chapman told the Sunday Politics programme that he was concerned because Welsh ports do not have the resources that one such as Dover is able to call on.

"It could be seen as a soft touch, couldn't it?" he said.

"We've got many routes into Wales - many ports that are not as large as Dover that benefits from all the manpower and equipment that's been expanded by the (UK) Border Agency.

"So yes, we can be seen as a soft target but again we need to make sure that incidents are being reported.

"I don't want to make assumptions about anything, but in the UK, human trafficking is second only to drugs in the world crime league."

He said there were many misconceptions about human trafficking, and its victims were not confined to the sex industry or the cities.

"I'd like to dispel that myth that it's just about females being trafficked into the sex trade. It's not just about young females, it's about young people, children, old people," he stated.

"Yes, the sex trade is involved but we've got domestic servitude, we've got people working in factories, restaurants, fields, on farms - not just cannabis farms - it goes right across the piece.

"It's not just the big cities, it's the rural areas as well."

'Working together'

Wales is the only part of the UK to have an anti-human trafficking post, with Mr Chapman the second person to be appointed to the job by the Welsh government.

Mr Chapman is a former deputy director of the UK Border Agency, a former Metropolitan Police officer and he has spent the last two years working as a senior security advisor for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.

He told the programme that the biggest challenge he faced in his new role was getting people to recognise that human trafficking was slavery.

"I want to raise the profile of human trafficking. What I would like is for the public of Wales to report all incidents and to be aware that in 2012 slavery is still actually going on."

He also had this to say for those who found themselves as the victims in the human trade: "I'd like to send a message of hope out that those people who have been trafficked.

"We are going to be working together, we are going to seek and locate you, rescue you and look after you."

  • Stephen Chapman is on the Sunday Politics programme on BBC1 Wales at 11:00 GMT on Sunday.

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