Police Scotland create campaign to expose human trafficking and sexual exploitation perpetrators

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Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Steven Straiton

Bronagh McGeary
Deputy News Editor

The campaign aims to highlight the warning signs of human trafficking and sexual exploitation

Police Scotland has launched its first ever campaign to target perpetrators of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. In an attempt to raise awareness among the public, this campaign is a step forward in identifying perpetrators who are hiding in plain sight.

Through advertisements on buses, trains and social media platforms, the campaign hopes to raise widespread awareness of the issue. With the handle #InPlainSight, Police Scotland hopes that members of the public remain vigilant to the possible signs of trafficking and help shut down any such organisations.

Signs of potential trafficking and sexual exploitation include: multiple female foreign nationals living at the same address, occupants rarely seen outside, occupants of premises changing regularly, male callers day and night staying only for a short time.

Police believe that the problem itself is linked to organised crime, and is often hidden within communities. Assistant Chief Constable Gillian MacDonald, Crime and Protection lead for Police Scotland, stated: “Sexual exploitation, or prostitution, is highly lucrative for criminal gangs who exploit people and place them at risk of significant harm.”

According to Police Scotland, 44 women and two men have identified themselves as victims of trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation since 1 January 2018 alone. Of the women, seven were under the age of 18. One woman rescued during a police operation had been forced into prostitution, working eight hours a day, seven days a week with exploiters charging £120 an hour.

Police believe that perpetrators are targeting victims through advertisements offering work in Scotland. On one day alone over 1700 adverts relating to those involved in prostitution across Scotland were posted on the internet.

ACC Macdonald also stated: “We will target those who control, abuse and exploit others by working collaboratively with partners to ensure that Scotland is, and remains a hostile environment to this trade.”

Bronagh Andrew, Operations Manager for the Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA) which has been operating since 2004, welcomes the campaign. “The majority of women we support were unaware that they were destined to be sexually exploited in Scotland. They have survived significant harm at the hands of traffickers and those who have paid to sexually abuse them.”

For further details about the campaign and how to spot signs of trafficking, please visit www.traffickedinplainsight.co.uk