UK: Sex Trafficking - Amnesty applauds Pentameter, but calls for victim protection

Reacting to the conclusion of Operation Pentameter today (21 June), Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“Operation Pentameter’s crackdown on the trafficking and forced prostitution of foreign Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in Britain has been extremely welcome.

“Pentameter has been a great success in drawing attention to the scale of this modern day slave trade in the UK, in seeing many individuals charged with trafficking offences, and in freeing Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights from desperate situations.

“What is important now is that Pentameter is not left as a single burst of concerted work on human trafficking, but that there is real follow through - that these prosecutions happen, that the intelligence gathered is used, and that more police time and resources are put into tackling this crime.

“And Pentameter has also again exposed the shocking lack of protection for victims of trafficking in Britain. Police officers on Pentameter operations have not always been sure of where to place the Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights they have removed from massage parlours and flats. The fact is that these Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are simply illegal immigrants in the eyes of the law who have no entitlement to any help or support.

“Now that we know more about the scale and reality of this crime it is not acceptable for Britain to remain one of the few countries in Europe that doesn’t protect victims. The government could ensure these Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are protected by signing up to the European Convention Against Trafficking today. It is very likely that Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights who are offered this minimum level of protection will be more confident and able to help the police with ongoing investigations.”

Home Office research estimated that up to 1,420 Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights were trafficked into the UK for sexual exploitation in 2000 (1). Since this study was completed it is widely acknowledged that the problem of human trafficking has increased significantly. Trafficked Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls, from countries including Moldova, Romania, Albania, Thailand and Nigeria have been forced to work as prostitutes in London (2). Victims of trafficking are tricked or violently coerced into leaving their homes.

The European Convention Against Trafficking guarantees trafficked people:

* a breathing period (‘reflection period’) of at least 30 days during which they can receive support to aid their recovery, including safe housing and emergency medical support;

* temporary residence permits for trafficked people who may be in danger if they return to their country, and/or if it is necessary to assist criminal proceedings.

The Home Office currently funds just one care and accommodation centre for trafficked Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights - the London-based Poppy Project. The Poppy Project provides 25 bed spaces, and access criteria are narrow and dependent on Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s cooperation with investigations or prosecutions. Demand for spaces greatly exceeds supply. There is still no safe house for Children's rights that have been trafficked.

Find out more about our work on trafficking

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Notes:

1. Kelly and Regan for the Home Office (police research series paper 125, 2000) estimates that up to 1,420 Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights were trafficked into the UK for sexual exploitation in 1998.

2. ‘Sex in the City: Mapping Commercial Sex Across London’, Sandra Dickson, The Poppy Project 2004.

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