MSP Claudia Beamish and MP Russell Brown have welcomed a consultation on proposals to crack down on human trafficking and have highlighted the need to ensure that the port at Cairnryan does not offer a route for traffickers to bring people into Scotland against their will.
A member’s bill launched in the Scottish Parliament last week by Labour MSP Jenny Marra proposes a raft of measures to improve Scotland’s anti-trafficking response.
If passed, the bill would be the most innovative and comprehensive piece of anti-trafficking legislation in the world.
Speaking following the launch of the consultation, Claudia Beamish MSP said: “It is difficult to imagine that in modern day Scotland, people are sold into the country, held and in some cases forced to commit crimes against their will but that is the reality we face.
“In 2011, 93 victims of human trafficking were identified in Scotland but the actual figure may be far higher. Traffickers use the threat of violence, either against the victim or their family, to coerce them into modern day slavery.
“This Bill would place Scotland at the forefront of global action to tackle this heinous crime and I would encourage people to take part in the consultation.
“Alongside this legislation, we also need to see efforts to ensure that Scotland is not seen as a destination for traffickers. The port at Cairnryan is a well-known route for illegal immigrants and steps must be taken to close the loophole that allows this to happen.”
Local MP Russell Brown added: “The scandal of human trafficking isn’t just something that happens in cities, but also areas such as Dumfries and Galloway, however it tends to be more hidden in rural areas.
“We know there are cases of people being trafficked through the ports in Stranraer and now Cairnryan and that’s why the reductions that have taken place in port policing by the Scottish Government are so worrying.
“At present the Scottish Government doesn’t have a strategy on human trafficking. That’s why I welcome this bill as it will compel the Government to publish an anti-trafficking strategy which will set out how the Government will work with the police and others to stamp out human trafficking in Scotland.
“There is a lot of good work taking place in the region through the Dumfries and Galloway Domestic Abuse and Violence Against Women Partnership on this issue, but this bill will provide more powers to crack down on this hideous crime.”