Councillor campaigns against human trafficking in Sheffield
A councillor has thrown a spotlight on human trafficking in Sheffield and says it is now a massive global business.
Nether Edge and Sharrow councillor Jim Steinke says some people have been trafficked against their will to his ward while others have come voluntarily assuming they were going to work legitimately but have ended up in a very different place.
“We know of forced prostitution and there is concern that a very small amount of private rented accommodation may have provided a base for this,” he said.
“Some people were working in commercial areas that involve intensive labour, like packaging, and there is also illegal areas like cannabis production, which is now often done on a scale that needs intensive labour.
“The ways in which people that have been trafficked include direct physical enforcement, withholding passports and being in accommodation that they will lose if they don’t cooperate.
“I welcome the international focus on trafficking of persons, but we also need to look at the implications of trafficking locally.
“Action by the police and other agencies have enabled people to escape from whoever has power over them, but also to prosecute those who have done the trafficking.”
Coun Steinke said there is still not enough support for victims, despite tough legislation.
“Trafficking is now a massive international big business, with the United Nations estimating that some 40 million people are involved.
“The British Government introduced legislation in 2015 to counter this, with up to life sentences for convicted traffickers, and compelling large businesses to address the threat of forced labour in their supply chains.
“However, although the Government has portrayed itself as a global leader in fighting trafficking, there is still inadequate support for victims and often uncertainty over their immigration rights.
“This can frequently get in the way of victims being prepared to assist in the prosecution of traffickers, and must be addressed.”
Coun Steinke, who spoke out on World Day Against Human Trafficking on Tuesday, said faith groups and community organisations were trying to identify and support victims and they needed to be encouraged as much as possible.