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Human trafficking found in most of Scotland, official campaign reveals

29 August 2017

Victims of human trafficking have been identified in 27 of Scotland's 32 local authority areas, a new awareness campaign by the Scottish Government has revealed.

For the first time, the locations where victims of human trafficking have been identified over the last five years have been pinpointed to challenge perceptions that the crime is confined to Scotland’s major towns and cities. They range from Dumfriesshire to Orkney. Latest figures show there were 150 potential victims of trafficking identified in Scotland in 2016, a 52% increase since 2013.

Research published this year as part of the Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy showed that 54% of people do not believe it is an issue in their local area, and the campaign aims to counter such views.

Organisations backing the campaign, including Police Scotland, Migrant Help and Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA), stress the importance of bringing this largely hidden crime out into the open as they encourage the public to report any concerns they may have.

Trafficking can involve victims being sexually exploited or forced into the role of a servant, or trapped in forced labour, with nail bars, car washes and construction amongst the industries where potential cases in Scotland have been reported.

Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson commented: “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.”

John Merralls, senior operations manager at Migrant Help UK, added: “As a support provider for those recovered, 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."

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