Councillors Douglas Campbell and Laura Brennan-Whitefield lend their support to the campaign
People in Ayr were today (18 September 2017) reminded that human trafficking is closer to home than they think.
Free manicures were offered in the town's High Street as part of the campaign to highlight the different industries in which potential cases of human trafficking have been reported.
Ayr was recently named as one of the 27 locations in Scotland where victims of human trafficking have been identified in Scotland in the past five years – and the campaign took to the streets in a bid to encourage people to recognise the signs and report any concerns they may have.
Latest figures show there were 1501 potential victims of trafficking identified in Scotland in 2016 – a 52 per cent increase since 2013.
Recent research reveals that 702 per cent of people surveyed believe that human trafficking relates to sexual exploitation – however the campaign is aiming to change perceptions and highlight forced labour can happen in a range of industries including nail bars, car washes, construction and fisheries.
The campaign is being backed by organisations including Police Scotland, Migrant Help and Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA) who are working collaboratively to support victims of human trafficking and target those who control, abuse and exploit others.
The agencies have highlighted some of the signs of human trafficking can include workers being withdrawn, scared and not willing to talk, with an appearance of being unkempt, badly nourished, or appearing to be controlled by another person.
Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson said:
"Human trafficking is a complex crime which involves adults and children being traded and exploited for personal benefit. It is an abuse of human rights which causes victims lasting physical and psychological damage.
"We want to make people aware of the different industries in which human trafficking can happen so we can start to effectively tackle this crime and stop this abhorrent abuse of human rights.
"I would encourage anyone who has concerns to report them to help bring human trafficking to an end in Scotland."
South Ayrshire Council Leader, Councillor Douglas Campbell, said:
"Human trafficking is not something that any of us should tolerate in a modern society and we all have a part to play in eradicating it from our communities. That's why I very much welcome this national campaign and encourage people and communities across South Ayrshire to lend their support and make a difference.
"It's something that has the potential to affect all areas and all people – men, women, adult, child – and, if by raising awareness, we can save one person from being exploited and used in this way, then that will be a success.
"Please don't assume it doesn't happen here, please don't assume it happens to other people – please visit the Modern Slavery Helpline website and find out how you can play your part."
For information on the signs of human trafficking and to report concerns visit www.modernslaveryhelpline.org/scotland.