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Sharp rise in Scots human trafficking cases uncovered

26 February 2018

A sharp rise has been recorded in the number of human trafficking victims identified and given help in Scotland over the last year.

Scottish Government figures show that there were 213 referrals to Police Scotland in 2017, a 42% increase from 2016. The greatest increase was in labour exploitation referrals, and over half of reports (58%) referred to a male victim (adult or child). The total of 123 male victims was up 64% on the previous year, and 85% were caught up in labour exploitation. Children were involved in 61 cases.

Ministers say the rise indicates greater awareness of the issue of human trafficking, after the Government launched the country’s first national strategy in 2017 to deal with perpetrators and improve support for victims, amid a public awareness campaign.

Two men were recently found guilty of servitude offences for holding other men against their will and forcing them to work for little or no money. Two others were convicted for assault on the same victims.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson commented: "During development of our national strategy and since its publication last spring, human trafficking and exploitation has rarely been far from the news agenda. That, together with the public information campaign, has helped ensure greater public awareness of the issue and the harm it causes.

"Trafficking and exploitation can take place in any community and does not only affect people from overseas. It is essential that if we see or suspect something then we contact the appropriate authorities.

"An increase in the number of trafficking referrals in Scotland suggests that we are getting better at identifying and reporting victims of trafficking." 

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