A member of the PSNI’s Organised Crime Squad has urged members of the Derry public to be vigilant for victims of human trafficking.
Detective Superintendent Philip Marshall visited the Waterfoot Hotel on Wednesday evening and he addressed a gathering of local business people, politicians and support organisations.
Speaking afterwards, the PSNI’s expert on human trafficking said it was important that people here realise the problem is happening areas across the North and that Derry, as the North’s second city, is a key focus for investigations.
Det. Supt. Marshall’s visit to the city comes just weeks after the high profile ‘Operation Quest’ where a number of arrests were made regarding people trafficking on both sides of the border.
He said there was a need for people in Derry to: “be alive to the fact that the problem is not just confined to Belfast.”
He continued: “There is definitely a need to raise awareness here and I would welcome the opportunity to hold further meetings with the public here.
“Traffickers usually operate in built up areas because of the supply and demand nature of prostitution and we look particularly for signs of off street prostitution where a number of individuals, male and female are moved into a house and don’t leave that property very often.
“There may be men calling regularly to that property and the people living there may have a limited command of the English language.”
Det. Supt Marshall said he also wanted to raise awareness among local business people including landlords, hoteliers and taxi companies.
“We want to get the message out to estate agents and also those in the hotel industry because these are the sorts of premises which traffickers target.
“We in the PSNI have to try and dispel the myth and outline the reality on our doorsteps which is about opening peoples’s eyes to the fact that in our cities and towns some individuals are being sexually exploited and living in squalid conditions.
“Many of them have their travel documents removed and are unable to get out of the situation they find themselves in,
“We would ask members of the public, if they suspect anything like this in their area, that they contact the police and it’s vital that they don’t try and deal with it themselves by approaching the trafficker.”
The Belfast based investigator said he had liaised with Derry organisation Womens Aid and had held a number of non public meetings in the city previously. These meetings had been focused on the trafficking problem, which also included issues like labour exploitation and domestic servitude,
For more information on traffiking, visit www.blueblindfold.org.uk or www.stopthetraffik.org