Human trafficking rising in UK, warn anti-slavery groups

New figures show nearly 1,000 victims in 2011 and suggest children are being forced into crime

The response to child trafficking has been criticised as inadequate and breeding a false sense of security – as new statistics show the trade in humans into the UK is growing.

Last year, the British authorities learned of 946 victims, compared with 710 in 2010, the inter-departmental ministerial group on human trafficking said. Trafficking gangs in China, Nigeria, eastern Europe and Vietnam are the most prolific.

Anti-slavery groups have warned that Government failures have led to "significant steps back" in tackling trafficking. There is currently no official figure for the number of victims.

However, the report said 712 adult victims and 234 child victims were reported last year to the National Referral Mechanism, the official body that identifies and looks after those caught up in trafficking.

It is thought the increase could be explained by improvements in identifying victims, although campaigners say many people choose not to come forward for fear of being deported.

The report suggested an increase in the number of children being forced into crime. It also detailed two cases of people trafficked for illegal organ removals, but they were detected and stopped before the operations.

Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland, of the Metropolitan Police, said: "The vast majority of them think they're coming to a better life in the UK."

The UK's leading police child protection agency yesterday proposed more checks to deter British sex offenders from abusing children abroad.

Britons who teach and volunteer overseas should be subject to Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks to deter sex offenders from travelling abroad to target young victims, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (Ceop) agency proposed.

One in five convicted or suspected sex offenders moves abroad to give them access to children in schools, orphanages or other institutions, according to figures released by Ceop.

The new international certificate is designed to prevent paedophiles banned from working at home from exploiting the demand for English-speaking workers in countries where vetting procedures are less stringent.

But Christine Beddoe, director of End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (Ecpat) UK, urged the authorities to go further and allow employers to apply directly for full CRB checks on potential recruits.

"There is a danger it could give a false sense of security to employers – particularly small schools or charities which are little less aware of formal procedures," she said. "This could be seen as a fantastic tool for sex offenders to present to an employer and say 'I'm really safe'.

"I would like us to take the next step by opening up the CRB check for proper checking for international schools and charities," she added.

Ceop, which has worked with the Association of Chief Police Officers' Criminal Records Office to launch the new certificates, said they could be requested for those UK nationals already in paid or voluntary employment in other countries.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent