Page last updated at 11:27 GMT, Wednesday, 2 July 2008 12:27 UK

'Largest' trafficking crackdown

Money changing hands
Some of the women had been victims of sexual exploitation

Criminals are engaged in human trafficking creating misery and degradation for victims throughout Scotland, police have warned.

Scottish officers have been involved in what is said to be the largest ever crackdown by UK police on the "trade".

Operation Pentameter 2 saw 59 people in Scotland dealt with as victims of human trafficking.

It is believed that 15 women from south east Asia were victims of sexual exploitation.

Scottish police visited more than 50 premises throughout the country.

These included 43 houses and 11 massage parlours. During the six-month operation, 35 suspects were arrested in Scotland and cash seizures amounting to 17,455 were carried out.

There are clear links between human trafficking and other forms of organised crime
Kenny MacAskill
Justice Secretary
Police said it showed the widespread, covert and transient nature of the problem.

Det Supt Michael Orr, of Strathclyde Police and chairman of the Scottish Human Trafficking Group, said: "Human trafficking is a serious crime that each police force in Scotland is now capable of dealing with as a result of increased expertise acquired during the operation.

"However, it is an ongoing problem that can only be addressed through proactive policing of human trafficking in the future."

He added that it needed more input from the general public "to have any impact on this intolerable form of degradation".

The Scottish Government stressed its commitment to tackling "the appalling trafficking in human beings and the misery it causes".

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: "There are clear links between human trafficking and other forms of organised crime.

"This operation shows how, through improved intelligence and close partnership working, that we can deliver trafficking victims from misery and help make our communities safer and stronger as a result."

The UK Human Trafficking Action Plan has been updated to include new measures.

These cover allowing victims of trafficking to be immediately granted a 45 day stay in the UK and a further new one year temporary residency permit to stay in the UK after being identified as a victim.

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07 Dec 07 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
Police target human traffickers
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22 Mar 06 |  England

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