Human Trafficking and the London Games – Policy Brief

Greetings from The Slave Detective,

Following on from my blog “The Mayor of London agrees with me” I saw this report completed by Blair Greenbaum University College London (UCL).

It is very well set out and outlines potential trafficking threats around the Olympics.

It raised several talking points for me. The first being “Human trafficking is a security threat in the UK, and today anti-trafficking operations are understaffed, underfunded, and lack uniformity in enforcement.”

I think it should also have included the fact that they lack expertise in dealing this the issue.

Under the heading 2012 Olympic Games: Heightened Threat or Just Hype? the report has possibly missed a point. It briefly mentioned the fact that the Olympic construction projects are some of the largest in Europe. These project have been in place now for five years. The trafficking industry is already feeding these projects. To be fair it hints this is the case.

It is no surprise then that when I ran the unit from 2006 to 2010 the largest proportion of our work was focused in the North East quarter of London. This just happens to be where the main focus of the Olympic Construction Project has been.

So are we likely to notice the marked increase in trafficking in this region?

To gauge this we have to know officially if the Olympics somehow influenced the Traffickers and brothel owners to set up business in the quadrant.

How do we measure this? It is foolish to suggest we ask victims (as it was suggested by senior officers in The Met) if their clients came from The Olympic Project site.

The thinking therefore was that if we have no hard evidence that the Olympics was influencing where brothels businesses were set up then there must not be any. Its the same argument stream that if we don’t arrest anyone for drugs in London, then London hasn’t got a drugs problem.

The powers that be currently have a strategy similar to an Ostridge sticking its head in sand! Just ignore the fact that The Human Trafficking Team that was highlighted NE London as a problem. The large population of Eastern Europeans that have settled in this quadrant haven’t, of course, got a criminal eye on the opportunities making themselves available for this event!

It might be a better gauge to see if the following in this area are markedly increased:-

1) How many advertisements on the internet and in local newspapers.

2) How many visible brothels marked up as Massage Parlours have set up in this area.

3) How many on street known prostitution area’s there are as apposed to other area’s of London.

4) How many Eastern Europeans are being encountered or arrested in this area. (It isn’t all Eastern Europeans but a huge number are).

In truth, as I have already being saying, it is too late. I’m sure the ‘spin’ will eventually say something along the lines of there wasn’t a marked increase during the Olympic Event. That will be because the area was already saturated by those that have prepared. While the authorities have been ‘faffing’ around preparing to fail victims.

I’m sure the effect of the scathing report on SCD9 by the Mayor of London (who I saw today happily riding his bicycle in Kings Cross all by himself) will be that more brothel ‘raids’ will take place, resulting in no victims coming forward.

Its a poor strategy, one that feeds the traffickers power over the victim and does little more than skate down the victims and not those that should be put in fear – The Brothel Owners and Traffickers. It is a strategy that needs to be used in conjunction with, not instead of, proactive thinking

The report concludes with recommendations that should ring in the ears of those that have taken the reigns of the trafficking issues in London.

1. In times of austerity, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Draw on existing anti-trafficking resources/best practices to maximize efficiency and minimize financial cost during the Games.

2. Standardize enforcement policies throughout the UK, to respect obligations of the 2011 European Union Directive.

These are excellent recommendations that will come too late for the Olympics. Not that it matters as the damage was done on The 1st April 2010 creating the toothless beast that is SCD9. That beast is not for turning! It is a shame senior Metropolitan Police Officers couldn’t have come up with similar conclusions.

The Met might be leading the chase (as it was in 2009) instead of being the subject of scathing reports and flagging behind. In 2009 The Home Affairs select committee said “The Metropolitan Police—one of the forces most aware of and active agains thuman trafficking” (go to my links and read for yourself).

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