6 Prosecution |
155. It is difficult to describe a typical trafficker
as they vary so greatly. Some are 'sole traders'they buy,
for example, a child victim, bring him or her to the UK and exploit
the child. In the case of domestic workers, it is usually the
employer who is the only trafficker, (though Kalayaan has sometimes
heard of workers being recruited by someone else to work for the
employer: these recruiters are usually sole traders rather than
part of a gang).
Some traffickers are in gangs loosely linked to other gangs in
a chain, each part specialising in recruiting or transporting
or exploiting victims.
Other networks are highly organised and control the whole process
from country of origin to final destination. Gangs may be linked
together as family members, or in ethnic or clan groups, or just
as business partners.
CEOP thought East European and West African traffickers were particularly
likely to be in organised crime groups, traffickers from elsewhere
in less formal groupings.
In some countries, such as Albania, criminal gangs are deeply
embedded in society, making victims more fearful of reprisals
on themselves or their families.
Traffickers may specialise in trading human beings, or people
may be just one of the commodities they buy and sell illegally,
forming part of a business that may at various times include narcotics
or weapons or cigarettes, depending on profitability.
The Gangmasters Licensing Authority told us that where gangmasters
were involved in one type of criminal activity in relation to
the exploitation of labour, they tended also to be involved in
others, but the Authority found it difficult to judge the extent
to which the most serious organised crime was involved in labour
trafficking into the UK.
156. The UKHTC described gangs as innovative and
creative, constantly changing their tactics. ATLeP added that
a major problem is the diffuse and often informal nature of the
trade: gangs, though small, seem to transform themselves continuously
with the result that lawyers involved in such cases do not see
the same perpetrator twice. Furthermore, the nature of the sex
trade means that many people other than the actual trafficker
are involved to some extent in the crime, as doormen, drivers,
maids, and so on.
Many gangs are extremely brutal: Balkan gangs trafficking women
into sexual exploitation habitually rape and beat women into submission.
Vietnamese gangs do not generally assault the girls they traffic
because the girls' virginity makes them more valuable. Nigerians
often intimidate their victims through voodoo.
The Poppy Project told us that the predominant nationalities of
gangs involved in sex trafficking were Albanian, Lithuanian, Russian
and Chinese. The Metropolitan Police emphasised the involvement
of Russian and Ukrainian organised crime. Europol said that, across
the EU, the main national origins of gangs were Romanian, Bulgarian
and Nigerian, though nationals of other Member and border states
were involved. Europol also noted that whereas until recently
traffickers were predominantly male, far more women were becoming
Home Office said that a trafficker controlling two victims for
sexual exploitation typically made £1,000-£2,000 a week
157. Because of the brutality of many traffickers,
victims are terrified about giving information.
Sometimes victims are wary of authorities because of corruption
in their own country or because their traffickers have told them
that the UK authorities will maltreat them. According to Anti-Slavery
International, a further disincentive to co-operation by those
trafficked for forced labour is the fact that no accommodation
or other support is provided for such victims.
The UKHTC said that the police go to great lengths to find corroborative
evidence to reduce the need for victims to act as witnesses in
court. If they have to be called as witnesses, the police try
to provide good protection, keeping them in safe accommodation.
Occasionally, victims are allowed to give evidence by videolink
if they have returned to their home country.
However, many victims suffer such trauma and fear that they do
not make convincing witnesses anyway.
At the time that the UKHTC gave oral evidence to us, the police
were very worried that a judicial ruling against the admissibility
of evidence from an anonymous witness would have a deleterious
impact on human trafficking cases.
158. As a result of these difficulties, by spring
2008 there had been no prosecutions for the trafficking of migrant
domestic workers, no prosecution for forced labour (in the four
years since a specific offence was introduced), and no successful
conviction of anyone for trafficking an African child. In contrast,
there had been more than 70 successful convictions for sex trafficking,
although the Poppy Project noted none of these was of a Nigerian
perpetrator, despite the fact that the largest group of its clients
were Nigerian women trafficked by fellow countrymen.
The situation had improved a little by the time the Home Office
Minister, Mr Alan Campbell, gave evidence to us in December 2008:
he reported that a total of 92 people had been convicted of sex
trafficking, and there had been four recent convictions for labour
European Commission said there were only between 100 and 300 prosecutions
of traffickers per year across the EU.
159. Many of our witnesses expressed disappointment
at the low rate of prosecutions and convictions for trafficking.
They said that, given the difficulty of finding enough convincing
evidence to obtain a conviction for trafficking, the police and
CPS often resorted to joint or alternative charges such as rape,
sexual assault, blackmail, coercion, violence, false documentation
and money laundering.
They cited the examples of two police operations, Operation Pentameter
1, which resulted in 134 people being charged, only 32 of whom
were charged with trafficking and the rest for rape, and Operation
Glover (relating to the trafficking of a child within the UK)
when the perpetrator was convicted of rape. The Metropolitan Police
was of the view that there was still more scope for involving
financial investigators in inquiries into trafficking to reduce
the profitability of the crime.
The UKHTC spoke of the 'Al Capone' approachtaking any legitimate
means to disrupt the traffickers and secure the victims.
Europol told us that prosecuting traffickers for other offences
was common across Europe, adding: "From our viewpoint, the
trafficker is still a trafficker, it does not matter if he is
prosecuted for another crime."
The UKHTC said it was generally very satisfied with the length
of the sentences passed on those convicted of trafficking.
prosecuting and convicting perpetrators of all types of organised
crime are difficultmore so for a hidden crime with confused
and cowed victims like human trafficking. We therefore understand
the low rate of prosecutions for trafficking and we applaud the
determination of the police and the CPS to use every legitimate
means at their disposal to disrupt this trade and make it difficult
and unprofitable for the perpetrators.
two disadvantages arise from the 'Al Capone' approach, one perceptual
and the other practical. The perceptual disadvantage is that the
comparatively low rate of prosecutions for trafficking as such
adds to the confusion about the incidence of trafficking in the
UK. This may lead some authorities to underestimate the severity
of the problem and therefore not to devote sufficient resources
to tackling it. The other disadvantage, pointed out to us by ATLeP,
is that perpetrators convicted of lesser offences than trafficking
(such as living on immoral earnings) receive comparatively short
sentences and sometimes are released from prison even before their
victims' immigration status has been determined, let alone before
the victim has had time safely to re-establish her/himself in
the UK or their home country.
162. These problems,
plus inherent justice, lead us to question whether more might
be done to improve the chance of successfully prosecuting for
trafficking. Victims' willingness and ability to give evidence
is central to this. Three factors make it more likely that victims
will co-operate. It is essential to convince victims that they
will be protected adequately. It is vital to treat them as victims
and not as perpetrators of immigration crime. And we agree with
both police and NGOs that the provision of safe accommodation
for all victims would be a significant step in encouraging them
to act as witnesses.
270 Q 154 Back
Q 259 (UKHTC) Back
Q 324 (Europol) Back
Q 403 Back
Q 208 (ATLeP) Back
Q 259 (UKHTC) This is one of the main themes of Misha Glenny's
book, McMafia: Crime without frontiers, 2008 Back
Q 125 Back
Qq 229 (UKHTC) and 201 (ATLeP) Back
Q 201 (ATLeP) Back
Qq 61 (Poppy Project), 440 (Metropolitan Police) and 324 (Europol)
The Poppy Project has found that victims are often recruited by
people of their own nationality but then sold on to Albanian gangs
operating in the UK: Ev 257, para 2.4 Back
Ev 195, para 28 Back
See, for example, Q 458 (Metropolitan Police) Back
Q 28 Back
Qq 262 and 264 Back
Q 215 (ATLeP) Back
Q 263 The case involved was not one relating to human trafficking,
but a case in connection with Operation Trident, the Metropolitan
Police's operation against violent crime within the black communities. Back
Qq 27-28 and Ev 97, para 4.1-4.2 (Anti-Slavery International);
Ev 106, para 20 (ECPAT UK); Ev 259, para 5.3 (Poppy Project) Back
Qq 529-533 Back
Q 345 Back
Qq 405-407 (CEOP), 457-458 (Metropolitan Police), 325 (Europol),
240 and 262 (UKHTC) Back
Q 457 Back
Q 236 Back
Q 325 Back
Q 240 Back
Qq 204 and 209 Back
For the police, see Q 264 (UKHTC) Back