Reports to police in Scotland of suspected human trafficking have shown a marked rise over the past year.

Figures for 2017 recorded 213 referrals to Police Scotland – up 42% on the previous year.

The most significant rise was in suspected cases of labour exploitation, up 64%, with over half relating to male victims.

Police Scotland said it was “crucial” that people continue to report their suspicions to the authorities.

The Scottish government believes the increase indicates greater awareness of the problem.

Scotland’s first national strategy on the issue was launched last year.

Identifying victims

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “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.

“The Scottish government has also led the way in improving support for victims of trafficking in the UK, including doubling the amount of time that they are eligible for this support, from April this year.”

More than one quarter of the cases referred to the police involved children.

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