Some trafficked people may have been smuggled in, but many will have entered the country legally, either from Europe where they do not need visas to work here or from outside Europe, with visas as skilled migrants e.g. in the fishing industry. They will probably have come here on the promise of a good job through a person or agency in their own country who arranged their transport and to whom they then owe a lot of money. On arrival the promised job will not exist. They will be controlled through threats and violence and told that the authorities may deport them if they complain.
During the NRM recognition process Belfast & Lisburn Women’s Aid support female victims of sexual exploitation and domestic servitude; Migrant Help UK support the other adults; and Social Services care for children and young people.
The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 aimed to improve the capacity to tackle human trafficking, slavery or forced labour. For a summary of the 2015 Act’s legal changes see the NI Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Strategy 2016/17 page 8–9 There are new offences, increased sentences, power to confiscate assets, a new statutory defence for people who are compelled to commit other offences. The most controversial element of the legislation is the criminalisation of the purchase of sexual services.
In 2016 NI first responders referred 33 people to the NRM. They were from 16 countries: Romania, China, Lithuania, Albania Iran, Bulgaria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The potential victims included 27 adults and 6 minors; 17 females and 16 males.
The type of exploitation was not specified for most of the minor potential victims. For the adults the reasons listed were as follows: 3, domestic servitude; 13, labour exploitation; 10, sexual exploitation; and one unknown.
The areas of gross exploitation in N Ireland include
• Agricultural work – read Darius’ story showing how migrant apple pickers were exploited in Armagh.
• Sexual exploitation is also significant, especially as victims can be moved easily across the border or the Irish Sea.
• Food processing – read how Romanian workers were exploited in the Lurgan/ Portadown area.
• Sea fishing
• Shellfish picking