Hope for Justice calls for awareness of the signs of human trafficking after 84 victims identified in Scotland

Paul McAnulty, UK and Europe Programme Director at Hope for Justice, is urging people to help the charity stamp out modern slavery after police announced that a group of 84 women and girls, some as young as 13, had been trafficked to Scotland for the sex trade.

Paul was interviewed by John Beattie on BBC Radio Scotland’s Drivetime programme, when the news broke that the women and girls had been trafficked from within the UK, Romania, Vietnam, China and a number of African countries this year.

Paul said all forms of people trafficking had been on the rise in Scotland in the last couple of years, with there being no evidence of the pandemic reducing the number of cases, and some suggestions that people are more vulnerable to trafficking right now. Ordinary houses, as well as hotels, are being increasingly used as brothels. But knowing the warning signs, and reporting them to Hope for Justice if you see them, can change lives.

Urging people to join the fight against modern slavery, Paul (pictured) said: “Landlords, but also members of the public, have a part to play in spotting the signs of modern slavery. Warning signs could include a home having lots of visitors at anti-social hours, or numerous vehicles visiting that you don’t recognise. You may notice an abnormal amount of waste or recycling being put out, which could suggest that there are more people living somewhere than there should be.

“The root cause of any form of exploitation is greed and gratification of the traffickers or the people who are willing to purchase sex. The victim’s vulnerability is exploited. That vulnerability could be poverty, substance misuse, a lack of education, or a learning disability. Most of the victims come from areas which are suffering huge levels of economic downturn and high levels of poverty.”

Paul added: “It is vital that people vulnerable to exploitation are offered better support to find safe jobs, and empowered with the information they need in order to mitigate the risk of exploitation.”

Other warning signs of victims being sexually exploited could include; people having a limited amount of clothing, much of which is sexual in nature, people showing signs of substance misuse, or people being picked up and dropped off at work by someone else. You can read more about the signs of human trafficking here.

If you spot any signs, contact Hope for Justice on 0300 008 8000 (local rate call) or email help@hopeforjustice.org. However, if you think someone is in immediate danger, please call the police first.

You can listen to Paul’s full BBC Radio Scotland interview here, from 1 hour 40 minutes 19 seconds onwards.


Photo: Library image. Does not show this case.