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Trafficking victims not referred for support

Commercial Sexual Exploitation
22 December 2022
Trafficking 4

New research shows that around seven in ten police raids reported as being linked to modern slavery and sex trafficking are not resulting in any trafficking victims being referred to support services.

Concerns have been raised by researchers who suggest that police officers are claiming to rescue trafficking victims in raids which target sex workers.

Emily Kenway, researcher and policy advisor on trafficking and sex work, based at the University of Edinburgh, stated that the high number of cases where trafficking victims are not referred to support services could indicate the police are “misidentifying” sex workers as trafficking victims, Ieading to their refusal to enter the National Referral Mechanism.

Ms Kenway argued, "If you are someone who works in a criminalised industry, with a hostile immigration environment and there are law enforcement officers in front of you, you are not going to feel safe to accept the support they are offering."

She also explained that many women, including victims of trafficking, are refusing support because “the system is not good enough”.

Dan Vajzovic, the National Police Chiefs Council lead for prostitution and sex work, commented that policing begins from attempting to bolster sex workers’ safety.

"Our enforcement efforts focus on those who target sex workers, organised criminals who profit from exploitation and others who seek to exploit for their own gain … Sex workers are disproportionately exposed to violence and by establishing contact I hope that we can build trust and encourage reporting of offences perpetrated against sex workers."
Assistant Chief Constable Vajzovic

CARE wholeheartedly believes that more needs to be done to address demand for commercial sexual exploitation. We continue to support the ‘Nordic Model’, where it is a criminal offence to purchase sexual services – targeting those who pay for sex and recognising the vulnerability of those who sell sexual services.

It is important that there are also better support programmes put in place for those who want to exit prostitution and where they do exist, we are urging all UK governments to increase access to these services.

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Commercial Sexual Exploitation

We believe people were made for purpose, not purchase. Exploitation within the sex industry affects some of the most vulnerable in our society. CARE is working for better laws to protect them.

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