Human trafficking – does it really happen in North Yorkshire or the City of York?
Human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people through force, fraud, coercion or deception, with the aim of exploiting them for profit.
What trafficking really means is that people are groomed and forced into sexual exploitation; people are tricked into accepting risky job offers and trapped into forced labour on building sites, farms or factories. It means being recruited to work in private homes only to be trapped, exploited and abused behind closed doors with no way out.
It’s a serious crime and a grotesque abuse of the people it affects.
People don’t have to be transported across borders for trafficking to take place. Trafficking is defined by the movement of a person, and this can happen within a single country or even within a single community.
There are many things that can lead to a person being trafficked. They might be coerced by someone; they may have been trying to escape abuse or poverty; or they could simply have been trying to improve their lives and support their families.
Debt can be used to as a way to entrap people. Debt bondage is a serious issue for many vulnerable people who are forced to take unimaginable risks to try to escape from poverty or persecution. They can be forced into accepting precarious job offers and making hazardous migration decisions, often borrowing money from their traffickers in advance. When they arrive at their destination, they may find that the work does not exist, or conditions are completely different from those they had been promised. They become trapped, reliant on their traffickers and extremely vulnerable. Their documents are often taken away and they are forced to work until their debt is paid off.
What can we do?
Be curious about the people that you interact with – contractors who may be working in your home, people who provide you with services, such as car washes, nailbars. Talk to them, does their background sound reasonable, do they appear nervous talking to you? We’re not talking about interrogating someone who may be already be vulnerable – it’s about demonstrating a level of interest and care that may help a victim to seek help or support.
So yes, human trafficking can be difficult to spot but don’t think that North Yorkshire or the City of York are immune to its impact.