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21 February 2014

Wales: Hostile to human trafficking

Wales: Hostile to human trafficking

Wales is continuing in its efforts to make the nation a place that is hostile to human trafficking, as stressed last month in the first annual report of its anti-human trafficking czar, Stephen Chapman.

Chapman's appointment as Wales's anti-human trafficking co-ordinator in November 2012 was the first of its kind in the UK, and the development of his role has been looked upon with interest by England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. He has taken great strides in establishing and developing a national and regional leadership groups in his first year in post. These forums bring people together from a range of sectors and agencies and include people working in criminal justice, police, health, children's charities, women's charities and faith groups. The message from Welsh government is clear – that everyone has a part to play in eradicating human trafficking and that we need to work together.

The statistics from 2012 showed that 34 people in Wales were referred to under the National Referral Mechanism system as victims of trafficking – three per cent of the UK total. 2013 figures have recently been published this number has increased to 50, representing a 47 per cent increase from the 2012 statistics. Of these 50, 17 were significantly from NGOs (nine from BAWSO, two from New Pathways and six from Salvation Army), highlighting the importance of involving charities in human trafficking work.

As human trafficking is still very hidden and with cases under-reported to the police, actual crimes do tend to receive substantial media attention when they come to light.

Three people, for example, were charged last autumn after a 60-year-old man was discovered to be living and working under slave-like conditions in the Marshfield area between Newport and Cardiff.

More recently, a pimp - originally from Eastern Europe - was jailed last month for trafficking two women into the UK to work as prostitutes in Cardiff. Suspicions were aroused when it was realised that the pimp was making regular trips to Manchester Airport from his South Wales base, picking up women who were being flown into the UK from Eastern Europe via the Wizz Air airline.

Welsh government minister Lesley Griffiths attended the interdepartmental ministerial meeting at 10 Downing Street last October in which Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled the UK Coalition Government's plan to have a Modern Slavery Bill in place by May 2014. In order to reflect this slight change of emphasis in legislation to modern slavery from human trafficking, Stephen Chapman's job title has been changed to anti-slavery co-ordinator. He is now also part of the Welsh government's Violence against Women and Domestic Abuse team (VAWDA), working on issues such as female genital mutilation and forced marriage. Victims of human trafficking now being referred to as survivors, reflecting language used in the VAWDA team.

Emeline Makin, public affairs and advocacy policy assistant, Evangelical Alliance Wales.