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People Trafficking

Volume 501: debated on Wednesday 25 November 2009

2. What recent assessment he has made of the extent to which people are trafficked between Scotland and England. (300125)

That is rather disappointing. The Barnardo’s report, published last week, highlights the number of young people who are trafficked within the United Kingdom for sexual exploitation. Will the Minister urge a further review, so that more can be done to protect those vulnerable people?

The hon. Gentleman rightly raises a subject of great concern across the United Kingdom. I can assure him that there is close co-operation between all the police forces, including those in Scotland; of course, this is a devolved function of the Scottish Government. There is a national referral mechanism that is tracking child trafficking. Glasgow is one of the 13 pilot areas that have been taking part in that project, and we will have further information on its success later next year. The Government give the highest priority to tackling this invidious crime and to ensuring that we arrest the perpetrators as soon as we possibly can.

Is my hon. Friend aware of the TARA—trafficking awareness-raising alliance—project in Glasgow, which so far this year has taken 44 women trafficked for prostitution into care and is looking after them with the support of the Government and the Scottish Administration? Will she ask the police forces of Scotland to act on the Bill passed just two weeks ago, which makes it a crime to demand, ask for or seek to pay for sex with any woman who has been trafficked or coerced? In other words, it is now the male punters who are responsible, and they must be brought before the courts and named and shamed to slow down this disgraceful traffic.

My right hon. Friend rightly refers to the very good work carried out by the TARA project over several years. The law on prostitution is different in Scotland, but that does not mean that colleagues in Scotland are not deeply concerned about the issues surrounding prostitution, particularly trafficking. I can assure him that local authorities and the police in Scotland are working very hard on that matter.

TARA in Scotland has seen a dramatic rise in the number of sex-trafficked women seeking its help. Sadly, the experience of large sporting events shows that the 2014 Commonwealth games could bring many more. Will the Minister ensure that her Government work closely with the Holyrood Government to share the experiences of and lessons from tackling this problem at the Olympics, to ensure that we minimise this horrible crime during the Commonwealth games?

The hon. Lady raises a genuine issue of concern which I share. There is already close co-operation between those organising the Commonwealth games to be held in Glasgow and the Olympic games to be held in London, and I am sure that the lessons learned about how we tackle this problem will be followed by colleagues in Scotland.