Page last updated at 11:03 GMT, Wednesday, 1 April 2009 12:03 UK

'No success' in trafficking cases

woman looking into a car
Many trafficking victims were working as prostitutes

Almost 80 people have been victims of human trafficking in Scotland but there has never been a successful criminal prosecution, a new report has revealed.

Agencies indentified 79 alleged victims between April 2007 and March 2008, most of whom were women forced into prostitution.

The only Scottish human trafficking case brought to the courts collapsed in 2007 due to a lack of evidence.

Scottish ministers said they were determined to tackle the issue.

The government-published report pointed out there had been successful human trafficking prosecutions in England and Wales, resulting in some of the largest sentences in Europe.

These criminals should be clear that there will be no hiding place for them
Kenny MacAskill
Scottish justice secretary

In Scotland, there have been a number of criminal cases related to brothel keeping and other suspected trafficking offences.

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said his government would continue to work with UK ministers to clamp down on the problem.

"The research shows clear links between human trafficking and other forms of serious organised crime," he said.

"These criminals should be clear that there will be no hiding place for them and working with the other members of the serious organised crime taskforce, and on a national and international basis, we are determined to take them on and take them down."

The report - which warned there may be many more unreported trafficking cases - said most of the known victims involved Asians and Africans.

Many had been taken over by third parties - people often involved in other criminal activities - and became sex workers as to pay off the "debt bonds" arranged to get them to the UK.

Some were also found to be working in businesses including restaurants and takeaways.

Det Supt Michael Orr, of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, said there had been advances in the fight against trafficking since 2007-08.

He added: "As the report identifies, there is little doubt that strong and focussed inter-agency working is a key feature in not only identifying those responsible for these crimes but also in making Scotland a hostile environment for trafficking activity."

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