There is an increase in the number of people being trafficked into the UK, a new report published by the Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group (IDMG) on Human Trafficking shows.
From 710 victims in 2010, last year 946 potential victims of human trafficking were referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM).
Of these, 634 were females and 312 were males, 712 were adults and 234 were children. The majority of potential child victims were reported to be in the 16–17 year old age category.
According to the report, the most prevalent source countries for potential victims were Nigeria, China, Vietnam, Romania and Slovakia.
Most adult victims were trafficked for sexual exploitation, but there is a steady increase in the number of people being trafficked for labour exploitation and criminal exploitation.
The most prevalent type of exploitation reported for children was labour exploitation.
The recently published UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) Baseline Assessment suggests that there could be over 2,000 potential victims of human trafficking in the UK.
The report shows that co-ordinated action between the UK and source countries was key in fighting human trafficking.
Immigration Minister and chair of the IDMG Mark Harper said: “Human trafficking is abhorrent and the UK government is committed to combating this crime in all its forms. We have already made significant progress in the fight against trafficking but the government is not complacent and we will continue to work to improve and strengthen our approach to keep pace with emerging threats.
“From next year the National Crime Agency will build on existing work to combat trafficking by using its enhanced crime fighting and intelligence capabilities to target criminal gangs.”
The IDMG Report shows that during the past two years, thousands of front-line professionals including border staff, police and healthcare staff have been trained to better identify, support and protect those vulnerable individuals who may be suffering abuse at the hands of traffickers.
Victim profiles have been developed and given to border staff and a human trafficking intelligence and victim referral map and guidance has been issued to all border staff.
Some airlines including Virgin Atlantic and Thomas Cook are training cabin crew to identify those who may be engaged in trafficking and their potential victims and a 24-hour confidential line has been set up for crew to report concerns to Border Force before a plane lands in the UK.
The government is currently working with other UK based airlines to encourage them to sign-up. There is also on-going work with other key industries including hotels and hospitality to raise awareness of trafficking.
The government has ensured that victims of trafficking who are identified are given access to a 45-day recovery period with access to safe house accommodation, signposting to domestic services including legal and housing advice and the development of a support plan which will enable victims to be located away from high risk areas or to return home to their country of origin.