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Taxi company team up with charity to tackle human trafficking

Scotland’s largest taxi provider, Glasgow Taxis is working with charity, Stop the Traffik in a bid to increase awareness of human- trafficking within the city.

The transport provider is distributing leaflets amongst their entire fleet of 900 cabs, highlighting some of the tell tale indicators of people trafficking.

Initially focusing on drivers who operate around the city’s two major railway stations, where victims of trafficking may enter the country, Glasgow Taxis have been using their network of Nite-Zones and Taxi Marshalls to coordinate the circulation of leaflets.

Explained on the promotional pamphlets are warning signs for drivers to look out for when transporting people around the city, particularly if any of their passengers look to be in a situation of distress or may have suffered physical abuse. Also listed are two   24-hour police helpline numbers which drivers can contact if suspicious they have picked up a victim of people trafficking, informing the authorities about any unusual activity.

While quite an unknown subject for many within the city, human-trafficking is an extremely relevant issue, with the organisation TARA  (Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance) reporting 28 referrals in their most recently published statistics (Sept 2011 – March 2012). Similarly, the national referral method for the crime documented 228 cases between April 2009 and February 2012, of which 126 were confirmed as victims.

Stop the Traffik is a global movement of individuals, communities and organisations fighting to prevent human-trafficking around the world. It was set up in 2006, now containing over 45, 000 members in 257 countries, working to target decision makers, exerting influence to prevent human-trafficking and raising money to fund projects for those who are most vulnerable.

Speaking about the initiative, Stephen Flynn, vice-chairman of Glasgow Taxis Limited, said: “Human-trafficking is a relatively unspoken issue within the city but this is no way denotes how serious it is. We have helped the police with their inquiries on a number of incidents, particularly around transport hubs.

“Our intention is to raise awareness amongst our taxi drivers, as well as the wider public throughout Glasgow, showing them what to watch out for as well as sending the clear message to anyone who is involved with this despicable business that our drivers will be ever vigilant.”

 

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So far in Scotland, there have only been a few successful cases of prosecution for human-trafficking, with a recent example in Dundee (Monday, 14 January) where three Slovakian nationals were jailed from trafficking a young couple into the country.

Stephen Gillman (Volunteer Awareness Raiser) at Stop the Traffik said: “This is a crime that is very easy to conceal, using human life as a commodity to buy and sell for great profit over and over again.

“By working with Glasgow Taxi’s Limited we can not only raise awareness but also give the drivers the knowledge to confidently report any thing suspicious they see using Strathclyde police’s dedicated Anti-Trafficking hotline which I hope will lead to more convictions and freed victims.

“Since coming to Glasgow last year I have found the people I’ve spoken to want to learn more about this and how it affects the city. Glaswegians generally want to take literature and report anything suspicious they may come across in their every day life, helping us to eventually get enough people vigilant to this activity and see more convictions.”

Ruth Gilfillan, Detective Chief Inspector at Strathclyde Police, said: “We fully support Glasgow Taxis and Stop the Traffik’s latest campaign, which raises awareness of human trafficking. Human trafficking is often linked to criminals within organised crime groups who are cashing in on the vulnerabilities of others, so we’d urge the public to contact us if they have any concerns at all.

“The anonymous intelligence gathered provides a platform for the Force to take action against those who are profiting from this silent industry, ensuring that they are held to account and that victims are provided with the support they deserve and require.”

For more information about Stop the Traffik please visit www.stopthetraffik.org.