This week in the House of Commons, our local MP Ian Paisley was alongside the Prime Minister David Cameron in launching a Human Trafficking awareness campaign in Parliament, aimed at making MPs and lawmakers informed of the wide-spread scale of the epidemic.
The lack of reliable evidence and comprehensive data makes fighting modern day slavery more difficult, since limited resources cannot be properly targeted. But the Human Trafficking Foundation believes there could be up to 20,000 victims hidden away within the UK. Many of these are then used as slaves to work in prostitution, cannabis farms or as slave labour.
Many victims are too afraid to talk to the police or immigration officials, fearing arrest or deportation, and the voluntary and faith groups who help them do not suggest otherwise. Victims therefore remain unseen and unreported.
EU victims account for 80% of those trafficked to the UK, yet there are no funds to pay for travel from the UK back to their home country. Local authorities have a responsibility to safeguard victims of trafficking in their local area, however trafficked children repeatedly go missing from local authority care and many feel at risk of being found by their traffickers. In 2012, 1,510 looked after children went missing from their agreed placement.
Despite the wide scale epidemic across the UK, just 8 people were found guilty of Human Trafficking in 2011, a shameful number.
Speaking afterwards Ian Paisley said:
“I was delighted to join the Prime Minister in raising this extremely serious and widespread crime of Human Trafficking and subsequently slavery to the Parliament. It is quite clear that not enough is being done to tackle this heinous practice.
We need to see tougher crackdown and sentencing, with the Prime Minister taking charge of the subject personally. We cannot allow the UK and Northern Ireland to become overwhelmed with this crime, it must be stopped and dealt with now.
Our Police force too must make this a priority and be one step ahead of traffickers as they aim to evade them. The police play a pivotal role in this fight to ensure traffickers are jailed for a very long time, and victims are returned to their families.”
Human Trafficking – Parliament – Ian Paisley