Monday, July 07, 2008

Scotland: Crackdown on Sex Trafficking Leads to Rescue of 59 Women

From the Herald:

SCOTLAND- Police have rescued 59 women trafficked into Scotland's booming off-street sex industry.

In a major nine-month crackdown, officers from all eight Scottish forces raided saunas, massage parlours and covert brothels across the country - many believed to be run, or at least supplied, by Chinese organised crime.

Detectives arrested 35 suspects, most believed to be foreign, and identified 59 adult women they suspect were victims of sexual exploitation - many from China.

The raids were part of Operation Pentameter II, a UK-wide drive that helped rescue a suspected 351 sex slaves, 13 of them children.

It was the largest police crackdown on human trafficking to date and resulted in the arrest of 528 people across Britain.

The operation has again exposed the scale of the UK's off-street sex trade, a network of around 1000 brothels exploiting thousands of women, many trafficked into the country.

"The numbers have doubled since Pentameter I," said Detective Superintendent Michael Orr of Strathclyde Police, who co-ordinated the campaign north of the border. "Suffice to say, there's a high level of demand."

Senior police sources stressed many of the women who were "rescued" had declined to give evidence against their traffickers, mostly because they were terrified.

Only 15 of the 59 women initially identified as victims have confirmed they were trafficked. All were described as from being from "south-east Asia". Tara, a group run by Glasgow Community and Safety Service, an offshoot of the city council, has now identified women from 42 countries working as prostitutes in the city.

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