Human trafficking will escalate if anti-Europeans get their way – Huppert
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs and Justice spokesperson, Julian Huppert has today, UK Anti-Slavery Day and EU Anti-Human Trafficking Day, warned that human trafficking to the UK could rise further if the Government pulls out of key European measures for fighting international crime.
The warning comes as the Coalition Government released new figures showing that human trafficking to the UK is rising and as three of Britain's leading Anti-Human Trafficking charities, writing in The Times, called on the UK to remain part of all European measures to combat human trafficking.
Commenting, Julian Huppert said:"Human trafficking is one of the worst crimes imaginable.
Having been sold a dream of a better life, many victims end up as modern day slaves for Britain's criminal underworld.
"To combat this cross-border crime effectively, we need to work across national borders. But if Tory Eurosceptics deny our police and prosecutors the tools they say they need to fight this international crime, it will only make life easier for Britain's human traffickers.
"Theresa May must listen to the police, law societies and anti-human trafficking organisations, not the ideological anti-European dogma of some in her party that would damage the fight against organised criminal gangs.
"The UK has a proud record of leading Europe in fighting human trafficking, bringing the traffickers to justice and releasing those held as slaves. We must not put that in jeopardy.
"The Coalition Government's inter-departmental report into human trafficking shows that the number of identified human trafficking victims to the UK has risen from 712 victims in 2010 to 946 victims in 2011
In August 2012, 13 senior former UK police chiefs wrote to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister warning them against pulling out of these measures (see letter attached).The Law Societies and the Bar Council have issued press releases warning against pulling out of key international crime fighting measures, see here and here.
In February 2012, 102 Tory backbenchers called for the Government to abandon all existing European police and justice cooperation measures, see here.
The threat from serious and organised international crime and terrorism is growing. The Home Office estimates that organised crime costs the UK up to £40bn a year (£1,700 per household), involves 8,000 criminal gangs and nearly 40,000 gangsters.
The European Arrest Warrant has been used to extradite over 4,000 dangerous foreign criminals from our streets to face justice abroad, and bring back over 700 of the UK's most wanted serious crimes back to face British justice here.
Police share information, intelligence and best practice with their European counterparts on a daily basis through a highly developed set of EU cross-border police and judicial networks, databases and via EU agencies such as Europol and Eurojust.
National Anti-Human Trafficking Success Stories through EU cooperation:
Operation Golf, a joint investigation between the Met, Europol and Romania, which broke up a pan-EU organised child trafficking network. 121 individuals across Europe were arrested and 181 children were freed. For details see here.
Vietnamese People Smuggling to the UK: In February 2011, a Eurojust co-ordinated operation involving five other countries resulted in nineteen arrests of individuals involved in the smuggling of thousands of illegal immigrants, mainly from Vietnam to the UK. For a full report see Eurojust website here.
Roma Women Trafficked to the UK for Prostitution: In 2011, a Joint Investigation Team was set up between the UK, Czech Republic and Eurojust targeting an organised criminal network trafficking Roma women from Czech Republic to the UK to work as prostitutes. The JIT operation led to the arrest of 11 ringleaders within 3 months of being set up. See P. 21 here.