Scottish businesses urged to 'open their eyes' to the signs of human trafficking


Serious Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism Lead, David MacCrimmon urges Scottish businesses to open their eyes to the signs of human trafficking.

With 31st October coming ever closer I won’t mention the dreaded ‘B’ word, but there may be some concern amongst businesses in Scotland with the possible impact upon the workforce, especially migrant workers.

What concerns me more, however, is that if the migrant workforce were to be diminished even slightly, does this present an opportunity for people to be exploited?

I suppose what I am saying here is, will there be an increase in cases of human trafficking to fill gaps in the workforce quickly?

The UK is still seen as a desirable place to come for employment opportunities, and this can lead to, as it has previously, criminal gangs exploiting people and making money from them as they’re put to work, often in horrendous working and living conditions.

We must open our eyes to this, not just the eyes of the public, but the eyes of the business community. We need to be able to spot the signs of potential victims of human trafficking and know what to do and who to call should we encounter victims.

Victims of human trafficking are often hidden in plain view, and there are many examples of that, whether it has been cases of cleaners in large office blocks, workers in hand car washes in our towns and cities, or those working on our high streets in nail bars and other shops.

Hidden in plain sight also extends to moving trafficking victims about.

We associate moving victims about with smuggling, and the two are entirely different things. Yes, sometimes victims of trafficking are moved about from place to place in cars, vans and trucks, but often this is done in plain sight too.

Many victims of trafficking can simply be told to go from one destination to another by bus or train. They are often given tickets to do so, and frequently there will be someone to meet them at the other end, to take control of them. This control can be through fear and intimidation, through threats of violence or actual violence, or simply as part of a debt.

With all that in mind, I want you all to open your eyes. Whether you are working in retail, or in a large office block or a venue, if you work on the transport infrastructure, the train stations or bus stations, if you travel yourself on public transport, or are a driver in the haulage industry, if you spot something that’s not right, if you see someone that you feel may be the victim of human trafficking, someone who is displaying the signs of being a victim, such as:

  • Appearance of neglect, physical neglect
  • Signs of poor nutrition
  • Withdrawn, submissive
  • Old injuries, or vague about how they came about injury in the first place
  • Excessive working hours
  • Distrust of persons in uniform;

 There are many more indicators that I could add to this list.

Human trafficking is not just a crime, it’s a human rights violation, and we need to help support victims that have been identified, and you can help in that.

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