Human trafficking victims found throughout Scotland

Justice secretary Michael Matheson vows to tackle 'appalling abuse of human rights'.

Human trafficking: Many victims forced to work in sex industry (file pic).
Human trafficking: Many victims forced to work in sex industry (file pic).

Victims of human trafficking have been found in almost every part of Scotland.

There were 150 potential victims identified last year across all but five of the country’s 32 council areas.

They were found in cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh, as well as in small towns and villages like Alva in Clackmannanshire and Appin in Argyll and Bute.

More than half of Scots do not believe human trafficking is a problem where they live, however, according to the Scottish Government.


Justice secretary Michael Matheson branded it an “appalling abuse of human rights”.

“This horrific crime affects the most vulnerable in society and has wide-reaching consequences for its victims,” he said.

“Generating awareness that the exploitation of adults and children is happening in Scotland today is key to bringing it to an end.

“This important campaign is part of a series of measures being implemented to eliminate this terrible crime. No one should ever be bought or sold.”


Human trafficking involves adults and children being traded and exploited for personal benefit. Victims are often sexually exploited, forced to work as servants or perform forced labour.

Almost 100 suspected victims have been intercepted at Glasgow Airport in the last nine months.

Meanwhile, raids on 80 premises across Scotland earlier this year resulted the rescue of a 15-year-old girl.

The number of people being identified as victims is rising and of the 34 people rescued between April and June last year, at least six were trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation – including one child.

The majority of trafficking victims in Scotland are from Vietnam, while others are from countries including Nigeria, China, Poland, and India.

Bronagh Andrew, operations manager at the Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance, said: “Since 2004, our service has supported women who have been trafficked and sexually exploited within Scotland’s sex industry.

“Women have been recovered, not just from our cities but from towns and villages across the length and breadth of Scotland.”


Detective superintendent Stuart Houston, head of Police Scotland’s national human trafficking unit, said tackling the issue is a priority for the force.

“We will target those who control, abuse and exploit others by working collaboratively with partners to ensure that Scotland is a hostile environment to this sickening trade,” he added.

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