Human trafficking currently constitutes a shocking menace not only to overseas victims but also to the well-being of UK families. “A child goes missing in the UK every 3 minutes” (25th May 2012 http://www.ceop.police.uk/Media-Centre/Press-releases/2012/A-child-goes-missing-in-the-UK-every-3-minutes/ accessed 20th February 2013). Similarly, prosecutions have shown abuse rings to move their victims around in a ‘post-code’ world of trafficking. UK children and women are especially vulnerable. The frightening political fact is that human trafficking is a powerful, global, organised crime that could ruin the lives of any of us. The three key areas cited repeatedly as requiring more concerted effort in the UK (for example according to the Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group on Anti-Trafficking 2012 [1.13]), are (1) data capture and intelligence sharing, (2) training and awareness-raising for front-line professionals, and (3) coordination of prevention activities. These three helped form the basis of the proposals below. Funding practicality is briefly addressed at the end.
Priority A - Awareness-raising and Professional and volunteer Training
There should be commitment at national and local levels in Wales to a campaign of zero-tolerance on human trafficking like that deployed against violence against women, and it should centre on a continual programme of awareness-raising among politicians themselves.
Anti-trafficking training already rolled out in police forces should now be maintained in step-by-step presentations, especially throughout the largest, South Wales. It should be retained as standard from induction through regular personal development. Similarly, training should reach other relevant professionals, for example community health workers and hospital staff (especially in Paediatrics), but also GPs with their receptionists, administrators and nurses. Critically and urgently, training should reach social workers and staff in children’s care homes, both primary and secondary schools. Appropriate versions, possibly using IT and new media, should open up further to NGOs and the volunteering sector as well as cascading into virtually every kind of induction course in public and private settings.
Priority B - Co-ordination and concerted effort
The pioneering appointment in Wales of a full-time Anti-Human Trafficking Co-ordinator should be consolidated as a long-haul strategy until Wales is known as a permanently hostile and unsustainable environment for human trafficking. And for the foreseeable future the following should go on being developed in Wales:
- An evolving, well-disseminated anti-human trafficking policy,
- Continuing political commitment to Welsh participation in all multi-disciplinary and cross-Government efforts in the UK, including attempted solutions to problems and their pilots,
- Further official recognition of, and co-operation with, relevant NGOs, consulting them and helping with: education, updating and training, referral issues and possibly translation services,
- Increased sharing of expertise between all police services, such as good practice and any innovations built up by other authorities, especially by nearby ones,
- Prompt adoption of any promising or proven UK legislation that makes prosecution of trafficking a more formidable prospect for perpetrators.
Priority C - Care of the victim
- Authorities should further address commitment to treating trafficked victims as victims not offenders, especially in the case of juveniles, and should not require the suspect to offer evidence of trafficking before its possibility is explored. Police should be resourced to investigate routinely any alleged offender’s claim to be trafficked and the National Referral Mechanism should provide immediate, effective advocacy for the person concerned (see IDMG 4.8). And since even verbal disclosure from a victim may demand exceptional courage and an unfamiliar trust in authority, it should not be the only or necessary trigger for action. Investigation for trafficking should be resourced whenever merely suspected or likely (for example in certain sex industry offences).
- Agencies should receive all necessary support in their work of keeping rescued victims safe, informed, supported and secure from re-trafficking.
Priority D - Data Capture and Intelligence Sharing
Authorities should go on exploring creatively and with determination how to achieve the best possible conditions for sharing maximum information without infringing data protection legislation, for example possibly notifying HMRC if there’s a suspected or likely tax fraud crime.
Priority E - Re-trafficking, especially of children
"Trafficked children from abroad are particularly being let down and their needs ignored because the authorities view child trafficking as an immigration control issue."
[Report from the Joint Inquiry into children missing from care (2012 p.10),
Victims exploited among and by our population, whether unintentionally or not, should receive compensating protection, care, respect and sympathy from our public resources and our law. To avoid foreign victims being re-trafficked, they should be granted residence if trafficking has rendered their homeland dangerous (eg from the so-called 'Romanian Mafia'). Authorities should further address the re-trafficking of trafficked juveniles in particular. The safety of victims could be achieved by allowing particular discretion regarding the appropriateness of prosecution. This is especially the case with regard to age-determination which is already diversely defined for different purposes in the UK (eg 16yrs for marrying, 18yrs for purchasing alcohol). Repatriation should also be facilitated when the victim so wishes.
Priority F - Funding
Within fiscal constraints, funding for the above anti-human trafficking initiatives should be sustained until Wales is known as a permanently hostile environment for human trafficking. Policy-makers and government should recognise that costs saved by prevention and care of victims as outlined above will reduce expenditure in legal proceedings, social work and health. Re-trafficking not only causes extended suffering but soaks up budgets in repeat activities and procedures. Finally bonus benefits for revenue should be sought from seizure of criminal profits in the UK and even abroad.
Some older parts of the Bible accommodated limited forms of ‘slavery’ as debt-payment or civil punishment to curb hunger or death in a bare-subsistence world. But these Scriptures always strictly forbade trafficking while also greatly mitigating slavery’s harshness, despite one or two problematic texts.
Jesus promised to fulfil Jewish prophecy by lifting every oppression (Lk 4. 16-21). Roman culture, though sometimes humane, commonly viewed slaves as lesser beings than humans. Slaves (around a third of the population) had now become the Empire’s indispensable, economic cornerstone. Fledgling, persecuted churches couldn’t hope to overthrow this. But their message fatally undermined the practice. Slaves and owners were all one family in the higher kingdom of Jesus, equally possessing the dignity of being human (Gal.3.28, Ephesians 1. 6:7-9 [cf.2.15]; Colossians 4:1, Philemon 1.16). Owners’ treatment of slaves was a form of service to them and God (Eph.6.9). Universal sin and God’s redeeming love levelled all people before God (Ro 3.23,24) and this pointed inexorably to eventual Christian abolitionism regarding all forms of slavery and especially human trafficking.