Some 16000 men, women and children were registered as victims of human trafficking within the EU between 2013-2014, according to the European Parliament Research Service. I tweeted this earlier in the week because facts and figures get banded about day in day out, but this is about people, real lives. These are people who have been identified because of dedicated and professional work of agencies across the EU who work to rescue victims of trafficking.
At the same time as these statistics were revealed, the news information service Reuters published research from the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) which suggested Britain’s exit from the EU could hamper the fight against human trafficking.
It’s work to tackle forced labour, slavery and trafficking is under jeopardy because the picture post Brexit is so unclear. Its main concern is that the sharing of intelligence could be compromised. The GLAA’s report states: “Dependent upon worker restrictions, there may be a drop-in intelligence flows as EU nationals will seek to remain under the radar of any law enforcement/immigration activity”.
As the use of encrypted social media makes it easier for traffickers to operate covertly it becomes ever more critical to ensure effective communication and cooperation is carried out among agencies across the European Union.
Europol, has also said that the use of social media for trafficking purposes is making their work harder. It’s therefore imperative that all our agencies have the access they need to continue the fight against trafficking. The effect of a break down in intelligence flows would have a catastrophic effect on the ability to save the lives of thousands of vulnerable people who are used in this dreadful way.