Reported by The Sunday Post – the news we share raises awareness of equality issues being reported in the media.

Victims of human trafficking can now be found in every town and city in Scotland, experts say.

And as the number of victims increases each year, one charity working with trafficked people has predicted the total it will help this year will be double that of 2018. Cases include sexual exploitation and domestic slavery linked to major cities.

But victims are also forced to work in sectors from the beauty industry and car washes in town centres to agriculture and fisheries in our remotest communities.

Jim Laird, an anti-trafficking expert and contributor to the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party group on the issue, said: “Human trafficking is now everywhere in Scotland.

“I have seen cases in Skye, Inverclyde, Lanarkshire, Tayside and the Borders to name just a few. We need to raise awareness and have people spot the signs and have police follow through on information.”

Mr Laird, human trafficking lead at Inverclyde Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “We know there are multiple cases of Eastern European crime gangs operating in Glasgow and particularly in Govanhill.

“Police are aware and their anti-trafficking unit have been obtaining intelligence on it for some time. Quite often you find Eastern European gangs work in tandem with Asian crime gangs in Scotland. Eastern European gangs provide the people and Asian gangs provide transport and the accommodation in which people are placed.

“This has been going on for several years now. However, for any cases prosecuted, the punishment clearly hasn’t been sufficient enough to prevent people from operating. This is a real concern. We need to see longer sentences and the legislation applied more appropriately.

“There are legislative powers available now but they are not being widely used, nor are powers to recover money from the perpetrators.”

He added: “Some sentences delivered by the courts have been far too short in my opinion – where people are out of prison in a couple of years after having enslaved and exploited people to the tune of thousands of pounds.

“There is also still a low prosecution rate in Scotland despite the numbers of people being identified as victims.

“I have been doing this type of work for a long time now and I see the impact on victims and on their lives. People say we have some of the best legislation in the world in Scotland. But that doesn’t mean a lot unless it is being properly implemented.

“We need to ensure that we get the traffickers and they get stiff sentences and it sends out a message to people.”


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