According to a report published today by Tam Baillie, Scotland’s commissioner for children and young people, and the Centre for Rural Childhood based at Perth College University of the Highlands and Islands, Scottish police are not doing enough to tackle the problem of international child trafficking.
The report criticises the Scottish police for not securing even a single conviction, despite known cases of child trafficking resulting in severe injury, abuse and trauma to dozens of vulnerable children. Last December the Scottish Refugee Council reported on the case of a Nigerian girl who had been illegally brought to Scotland, held prisoner and subject to repeated rape.
Other children rescued from child traffickers in Scotland had been forced to work in ‘cannabis factories’ or as domestic servants treated little better than slaves. Others have been used to allow their traffickers to make false benefit claims. The youngest child rescued was only fourteen years old. The majority of the children come from countries in Africa or East Asia.
The report highlights the fact that the issue of child trafficking has generally been regarded as a problem for immigration and border control officials, resulting in neglect of the needs of the children who are victims of the trade.
The report recommends that the UK government ensure greater and easier communication between the various UK government bodies involved in the issue. It also calls upon the Scottish government to make sure sufficient funding is available to counter the problem, and to ensure that a consistent standard of good practice is applied throughout Scotland.
Speaking in an interview with the Guardian newspaper, Baillie said: “When children are raped or exploited as slaves in households or businesses in Scotland it becomes our national scandal. When we fail to notice, fail to pick up the signs and fail to act on children’s trauma, it demands action. I hope this report, the first of its kind in Scotland, will take the issue out into the open and result in action and change for child victims of trafficking.”