The National Crime Agency (NCA) published its report last week into human trafficking and exploitation. It revealed the UK has seen a rise in the number of people trafficked for slavery or other forms of exploitation.
The figures published by the NCA show a significant increase of 22% between 2012-2013 in the number of trafficked victims.
Some of the increase can be attributed to better reporting and the NCA says that this is particularly the case with cases relating to children. High profile cases such as the abuse of girls in Rotherham have helped to create a surge in the reporting of exploited children, but the NCA admits that the 2,744 known victims (of which 602 are children) is merely the tip of the iceberg.
Investigators said that trafficking didn’t just mean where people were taken from one country to another but their figures also include victims who may have not been trafficked into another country. For example the NCA also found cases of adults forced into prostitution, labour exploitation, domestic servitude, or those who were forced to commit crimes such as making false benefit claims.
One of the other incredibly disturbing and shocking revelations from the NCA’s report is evidence to suggest some victims are marked with tattoos, the symbols of which are not clear, but the report claims symbols are possibly used to indicate country of origin or age of the victim (if the victim is over 18 or not). The report says: “Various sources indicate that tattoos are used globally to mark victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation by traffickers and pimps, but the extent to which this is used in the UK is not known.”
This is an absolutely appalling crime and we must act swiftly to prevent further crimes of this nature. Labour is ready to tackle the issue of these very underground sexual crimes and has promised to create a “specific offence of serious exploitation”. The Labour Party has also said it will make prosecutions easier.
We must also focus on the support we offer victims. These terrible crimes will affect them for the rest of their lives.