Nail bar slaves found in biggest trafficking swoop Midnight 20/10/16
ONE of the biggest single crackdowns on human traffickers operating in Scotland has seen police identify 11 potential victims – including six children – working in nail bars.
Around 430 police officers raided hundreds of firms including farms, car washes, beauty bars and food production factories as part of a national day of action to coincide with World Anti-Slavery Day.
A teenage boy was discovered working in one nail bar in Edinburgh and an illegal immigrant was also found working in another within the Capital.
Several minors – including a teenage girl – were identified in premises in Livingston and received care from social workers after the operation.
One person has been detained for human trafficking offences and two others arrested for immigration offences by Police Scotland, with an additional 12 arrested by Immigration Enforcement.
Also in Edinburgh a Latvian man was arrested for drugs offences under an International Arrest Warrant.
The alleged human traffickers are believed to originate from Iran, Vietnam, Albania, Turkey and Iraq.
Police were supported on the raids by 50 colleagues from HM Revenue and Customs, Immigration Enforcement, British Transport Police (BTP) and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority.
Shook Tang, of Migrant Help Scotland said a number of the alleged victims of trafficking, including a Vietnamese man found working in a nail bar had been referred to the charity for assistance with accommodation.
“It is common to see Vietnamese people who have been trafficked to work in cannabis cultivation, but we also see mainly girls brought to work in nail bars,” she said. “We also see some Chinese people, usually brought for domestic work or other labour exploitation.
“Some people who have been trafficked end up working as fishermen.
“Their documents are kept by gangmasters, to control them and prevent them going out. “They are also financially controlled as well, paid as little as £1 or £2 an hour and kept locked up.”
“Some come into the country thinking they are coming for an apprenticeship but when they get here it is a different story
It is understood those from outside the EU will be given financial help to support themselves while submitting an application for asylum, or helped to return to their home country.
Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Houston of Police Scotland described human trafficking as a “sickening trade in vulnerable people”.
He said: “It is happening now, in Scotland, to adults and children.
“Victims are being trafficked into and around the country, usually for the purposes of labour or sexual exploitation. We will ensure Scotland is a hostile environment to this kind of exploitation.”
Police Scotland said it is working closely with health and social care workers to help people who are discovered as a result of anti-slavery and human trafficking work.
Ian Tyldesley, assistant director for Immigration Enforcement in Scotland, said: “Modern slavery is a barbaric crime which destroys the lives of some of the most vulnerable and law enforcement has an essential role to play in eradicating this abuse from our society.”
Matt Forde, national head of service at NSPCC Scotland said trafficked children are often subjected to the “most traumatic physical, sexual and emotional abuse”.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “In relation to charges, we seek to remove anyone caught committing immigration offences. Our inquiries are continuing.”
Officers also moved to raise awareness of trafficking in transport hubs, ports and railway stations in Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Tam Baillie, Children and Young People Commissioner said: “I am pleased to see we are now identifying those responsible for the misery caused by human trafficking. It shows we have improved our awareness and understanding that this exploitation is happening here in Scotland and the arrests send out a signal it will not be tolerated. We need to continue to be vigilant in our efforts to respond to any signs in local areas where there are children and adults who may be victims.” THE HERALD