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Human Trafficking

Volume 532: debated on Thursday 8 September 2011

13. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the Government’s policy on human trafficking in respect of major sporting events. (70600)

Regular Olympic briefings take place between my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, me, Home Office Ministers and the Olympic intelligence centre to discuss threats to the games, including human trafficking. Although there is currently no evidence of an increase in human trafficking linked to the games, the Government are aware of the threat, which is real, and will remain vigilant.

I thank the Minister for that full response. The danger of modern-day slavery at the Olympics is great. I appreciate that the Government have recognised that in their new strategy on human trafficking, which talks about the intelligence leading up to the games, but can he tell us a little more about how that works?

Yes, of course I can. We have a bespoke Olympics intelligence centre, which looks specifically at intelligence leads surrounding information of all sorts feeding into the Olympics. As my hon. Friend correctly says, there is evidence that hosting world-class sports competitions can, in certain circumstances, lead to an increase in human trafficking. As yet there is no hard evidence that that is happening, but the threat remains and we will remain vigilant.

Just to remind the House, today is Paralympics day—a day of celebration up in Trafalgar square of the extraordinary achievements of Paralympians and of achievements to come.

The Minister will have seen the March 2010 report published by London Councils which examined the potential impact of the games on trafficking. I know that he shares my long-standing concern that the games should be safe for women and that London should be a no-go area for evil exploitation by traffickers. The London Councils report suggested that there was a particular risk that the number of Roma people trafficked for begging would increase. Have there been discussions with the Romanian Government and others to ensure that this risk does not materialise?

That is a good question. I have not myself had discussions with the Romanian Government because the information I receive is channelled through the Olympic intelligence centre. I can give the right hon. Lady my absolute assurance—I believe she will get a security briefing within the next couple of weeks, so she will have the opportunity to ask that question herself—that I, too, will ask that specific question. As I say, there is no hard evidence to date that anything of this sort is occurring. As I said earlier, the threat is there and we will remain vigilant.