HC Deb 08 July 2002 vol 388 cc741-2W
Mr. Spring

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures the Government are taking to prevent the trafficking of women in the Balkans and what evaluation he has made of their success; what measures the Government are taking in this regard in co-operation with fellow European Union member states, and what evaluation he has made of their success; what measures have been taken by European Union institutions to combat this trafficking and what evaluation he has made of their success; and if he will make a statement. [65708]

Beverley Hughes

Alongside effective enforcement in the United Kingdom (UK), we have recognised that there is the need to develop intelligence and undertake joint operations against trafficking networks in transit countries in the Balkans region. We have provided a total of £200,000 to fund various local anti-trafficking projects in the Western Balkans region implemented under the auspices of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe's democratisation arm, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

In 2000 we set up Reflex, our multi-agency task force on organised immigration crime, which co-operates with overseas law enforcement partners on the disruption of organised criminal groups intent on trafficking. Led by the National Crime Squad (NCS), Reflex brings together all the key agencies, including the Immigration Service, the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS), the security and intelligence agencies and key police forces including the Metropolitan police, Kent and the British Transport police.

The UK has posted nine Immigration Liaison Officers to disrupt trafficking and organised immigration crime in and around the Balkans region. European Union (EU) partners have made similar deployments. We co-operate directly or through Europol with EU law enforcement agencies and those in EU accession states. Since April 2001 this has resulted in the disruption of 14 trafficking organisations and 67 arrests. 323 individual facilitators have been arrested.

Project Immpact, a UK led EU immigration initiative to assist the Bosnia State Border Service, has reduced the flow of illegal migrants through Sarejevo airport by 90 per cent. UK and EU experts assist the anti-trafficking and (b) left the Prison Service in each of the last five years for which figures are available in (i) actual figures and (ii) as a percentage of the total. [66434]

Hilary Benn

The information is contained in the table. Officer grades include prison officers, senior officers and principal officers. Joiners information excludes staff who have been re-graded to prison officer from another Prison Service grade.

EU STOP teams in Bosnia which have identified 185 victims of trafficking involved in prostitution over the past year.

We have also provided assistance to the recently established anti-trafficking task force at the South East Europe Co-operation Initiative (SECI) centre in Bucharest, which is focused on cross border co-operation and intelligence sharing between its 11 member states in the Balkan region.

Belgium and Spain have made organised immigration crime a theme of their EU presidencies. The Danish presidency will promote an EU-wide project against the trafficking of women co-ordinated by the European Police Chiefs Taskforce in the second half of this year.