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Type of document: News
Topic: Law enforcement
Geographic descriptors: United Kingdom
Language: English
Source: www.guardian.co.uk/crime/article/0,,1790389,00.html
Date of publication: 08 June 2006
Long Abstract: 'Slave auctions' targeted in crackdown on airport crime

Jacqueline Maley

Monday June 5, 2006

The Guardian

Women are being sold off in "slave auctions" in the arrivals lounges of British airports, according to authorities desperate to crack down on the burgeoning trade in trafficking humans.

The Crown Prosecution Service said foreign women were being sold as sex workers as soon as they arrived, and police have been appealing to men who frequent brothels to contact them in confidence if they believe the prostitutes may be there against their will

In one instance, a slave auction took place outside a coffee shop in the arrivals hall of Gatwick airport. Authorities believe similar auctions have taken place at Heathrow, Stansted and other airports across the UK.

The arrivals-lounge auction is one of an array of "airport crimes" which will be examined at a CPS conference today. Others include the abandonment of children in baggage reclaim areas with no identity papers, "distraction" thefts and pick-pocketing by criminals working in teams, and burglaries by criminals who read the addresses on baggage labels and break in on the likelihood homes will be empty.

"Criminal activity at the UK's airports is on the increase," said Nazir Afzal, CPS director in west London. "We are now seeing 'slave auctions' being held in public places at airports where brothel keepers are bidding for women destined for prostitution."

A Home Office report released five years ago estimated the number of victims of human trafficking in the UK at 1,400. But the current figure could be double that, according to Gloucestershire chief constable Tim Brain, the head of Operation Pentameter, a multi-agency taskforce launched in February to combat trafficking. The CPS conference coincides with criticisms levelled at the government by children's charities, who believe its response to the trafficking of children is "completely inadequate".

"There is no coordination of trafficking crime units. There is an ad hoc approach across the country," said Christine Beddoe, the director of a coalition of children's charities called End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking.

"There is a total inadequacy in social services support, not enough safe houses, and no guidance and training for health workers in knowing how to identify a trafficked child."

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