HC Deb 05 November 2003 vol 412 cc718-9W
Mr. Reed

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the need for the introduction of safe houses in Leicestershire for(a) women and (b) children rescued from traffickers involved in the illegal sex trade. [134356]

Caroline Flint

The Government has acknowledged that provision needs to be made for the victims of trafficking, in whichever part of the country they may live. It is intended that any victim support measures should be available in due course for all victims of trafficking.

The best information we have about possible number of victims of trafficking in the United Kingdom comes from research published in the report—Stopping Traffic (2002). This estimated that anything between 140 and 1,400 were trafficked annually into the UK for purposes of sexual exploitation.

At present the majority of known trafficking cases are in London and surrounding areas—this is where the service delivery partner is based and have developed their specialist services. Additionally pro-active policing by the Metropolitan Police is uncovering numbers of victims of trafficking in London also.

There is growing evidence to suggest this is a national problem and it seems reasonable to suppose that wherever there is a well developed vice market, there is likely to be a demand for trafficked women to work in the sex industry.

The White Paper "Secure Borders, Safe Haven"—published in February 2002—sets out our general proposals for assisting the victims of human trafficking.

On 10 March this year, we launched a pilot scheme in the London area. Under the scheme, adult female victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation whose circumstances meet the criteria set out in the White Paper are offered protection and support provided:

  • The victim has been brought to the UK;
  • She is being forcibly exploited;
  • She is working as a prostitute or she demonstrates that she has escaped from the trafficker, and that in the period immediately prior to her escape she had been working as a prostitute;
  • She has come forward to the authorities; and;
  • She is willing to co-operate with the authorities.

The objectives of the pilot scheme include: to develop mechanisms that enable and ensure formal assessment of the number of victims of trafficking, the assessment of the relevance and impact of the services provided, development of a multi-disciplinary case-work model to facilitate the effective identification and assessment of victims.

Under the provisions of the Children Act 1989 minors are the responsibility of local authority social services Departments. It is not possible for minors to be admitted to the pilot scheme.

The pilot scheme will be evaluated to assess its impact. We will then consider what more we can do to help victims of trafficking.

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