The rise in reports of human trafficking should be ‘celebrated’, a Manchester charity has claimed.
The charity believes the increase in reports shows that more people are now being identified and rescued from desperate conditions.
Manchester-based Hope for Justice was founded in 2008 and exists to stop human trafficking and modern day slavery.
“Human trafficking is such a hidden crime, so it may be on the rise or we may just be we are getting better at identifying it, but we really need to see how it rises from year to year,” Rebecca Clarke, a spokeswoman for Hope for Justice said.
“It has been rising for the last two years, but hopefully with the Modern Slavery Bill and the Home Secretary’s real push to combat human trafficking. There’s definitely been a renewed focus.
“It’s something that’s coming into the public eye and on the agenda of police crime commissioners nationally and in a way that’s to be celebrated.”
The National Crime Agency has revealed more than 2,700 victims of human trafficking in the UK, a 22% jump in the number of identified suspected victims of trafficking between 2012 and 2013.
Of the 2,744 suspected victims, thought to be the tip of the iceberg, include 602 children.
In the UK there has been a surge in reports of sexually exploited children – from 38 to 128 – in the wake of high-profile abuses cases in Rotherham and Rochdale.
Investigators also found cases of adults forced into prostitution, labour exploitation, domestic servitude, or compelled to commit crimes such as making false benefit claims.
“One of the things that we take away from the report is that there has been a rise in the number of victims who have been identified,” Ms Clarke told MM said.
“But we can’t necessarily say there has been a rise in the number of victims who have actually been trafficked.
“It’s a sad fact human trafficking happens in the UK in this day and age but something we can be really positive about is that we’ve seen people working together to identify victims, give them the opportunity of a new start and access to the restorative care they need to get over their experiences, whilst also seeing more prosecutions.“
The NCA say trafficking does not necessarily have to involve crossing international borders, that many victims are actually born here in the UK and that any recruitment for prostitution, forced labour, slavery or servitude is exploitation.
The NCA report states: “With UK girls, we see them groomed, we see them recruited, we see them moved around, we see them kept by gangs for sexual exploitation, gratification, or financial gain.
“For UK men, we see that happen, recruited by abduction, fear, controlled, for purpose of slavery, for purpose of labour.”
As it stands, Romania is still the country of origin most likely for victims of trafficking, followed by Poland.
Many of those trafficked a lured in by unscrupulous people they meet online through online dating or fake recruitment sites.
Ms Clarke added: “We’ve found that there are victims of trafficking all over the world but with members of the EU it is very easy for a person to be lured with the idea of a job, and they travel perfectly legitimately but what they don’t realise is that when they arrive in the UK they are actually delivering themselves into the hands of traffickers.
“Often they have their passports taken, they have no idea where they are in the country and traffickers are master manipulators who use fear to keep them from speaking to anybody who could help.
“This is just the tip of the ice berg because for every person we rescue, they know two, five, ten people in the same situation which we then go and follow up and identify.”
Hope for Justice have two offices in the UK and two regional investigative hubs who deploy teams of specialist highly trained investigators, often former ex-police officers.
Their team works with front line professionals like police, homeless shelters churches outreach programs to spot the sings in vulnerable people that they are coming across.
Once a referral is made hope for justice will meet individual, as well as rescuing people from their trafficking situation, while obtaining information to identify other victims.
Image courtesy of sammisreachers, with thanks.