TWO potential victims of human trafficking, including a child, have been identified by police in Edinburgh following a national day of action.
The operation, the first nationwide day of its kind, involved 430 police officers supported by 50 colleagues from HM Revenue and Customs, Immigration Enforcement, British Transport Police and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority.
They visited 221 premises across Scotland including farms, beaches, car washes and nail bars.
In Edinburgh, they carried out checks in 16 premises and also spoke to travellers at Edinburgh Airport and Haymarket and Waverley railway stations to make people aware of the issue of human trafficking.
The teenage boy was discovered working in a city nail bar and is now being cared for by social workers, while an illegal immigrant was also found working in another nail bar. A Latvian man was arrested in the Capital for drugs offences under an International Arrest Warrant.
Across the country, 11 potential victims were found.
Detective Chief Inspector Alwyn Bell said: “Human trafficking is very much hidden but is happening within Edinburgh.
“Individuals often don’t see themselves as victims, which is why we will proactively seek to identify them through visits like yesterday’s.
“The day of action focused on awareness-raising. We spoke to business owners and managers, urging them to think about the people they employ and serve, and encouraging anyone with concerns about exploitation in any form to report it.
“We are determined to improve the intelligence picture in order to gain a better understanding of trafficking in Scotland and the organised crime groups who are involved, and the work we have carried out will inform the next steps we take.”
The operation, which coincided with Anti-Slavery Day, was a major initiative to identify and protect potential victims of human trafficking.
Officers were also involved with awareness-raising work in transport hubs, ports and railway stations in Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow
DCI Bell continued: “Trafficking is unacceptable. We will target those who control, abuse and exploit others by working collaboratively with partners to ensure that Scotland is a hostile environment to this sickening trade.”