Public urged to help catch city traffickers

POLICE are urging communities in Glasgow to help them target criminals involved in people trafficking.

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Specialist teams are taking the lead in seeking out organised criminal gangs and individuals trying to exploit and traffic adults and children into the Strathclyde Police area.

But Ruth Gilfillan, Detective Chief Inspector in the force's Vice and Human Trafficking Unit, said: "We are proactively looking for these people so we can prevent the despicable crime from happening in the first place.

"And as we are doing this we need people who live here to look out for signs. It is crucial for our investigations.

"Things we would ask people to look out for are signs of sexual exploitation, forced labour and domestic servitude, where people are forced into the role of servants."

Some of the signs of trafficking include mini-buses or vans picking people up at unusual hours of the day, several people living in overcrowded properties and people not being in possession of their passports.

The police plea came as Scotland's largest taxi provider, Glasgow Taxis, joined forces with global charity Stop The Traffik in an attempt to increase awareness of the crime.

The taxi firm is distributing leaflets amongst its fleet of 900 cabs, highlighting some of the tell-tale indicators of people trafficking.

The firm has been using its network of Nite-Zones and taxi marshalls to co-ordinate the circulation of leaflets.

The leaflets explain how drivers can look out for warning signs and there are two 24-hour police helpline numbers.

From January 2011 to last June there were 134 potential victims of trafficking in Scotland.

Jim Smith, committee member at Glasgow Taxis Limited, said: "We have helped police with their inquiries in a number of incidents, particularly around transport hubs.

"Our intention is to raise awareness among taxi drivers, as well as the wider public throughout Glasgow."

Stephen Gillman, of Stop The Traffik, said: "This is a crime that is very easy to conceal.

"By working with Glasgow Taxis we can raise awareness and give drivers the knowledge to confidently report anything suspicious."

l To report information on people trafficking call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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